I have decided that I will mark those two endings by adding a third: this will be my last entry in this blog. I created it to chronicle my experiences in Paris during my year of leave; but now I'm back in Toronto, and (unofficially) back at work. I enjoyed writing during the past year, and even more, I enjoyed reading the comments that people contributed to my entries.
School starts next Tuesday morning, with a staff meeting bright an early before the kids arrive. I'm looking forward to it. I think that I will continue to keep a livejournal. The setting and the incidents will be different, but I'm still the same guy, or at least, I'm still evolving in the same direction. So if you want to keep in touch (and I hope that you do) you can find me as paulintoronto.
As for whether I will continue to post here, now that my year off is over, I think that I will probably stop writing as "paulonleave" and start a new journal with a new user-name, one that better reflects my current situation. [By the way, I have signed and returned my contract for another "Four over five" leave, so that means I only have to work for four solid years before I get another year off.] If I do start a new journal, I will post my new user name here and invite anyone who is on my Paulonleave friends list to migrate to the new journal. I have really enjoyed blogging for the past year, and getting to "know" some people virtually, and I think it would be rewarding to continue.
This year at school I'll be teaching three English classes -- two Grade 11s and one Grade 12. It has been a few years since I taught English, and I'm excited about it, although I'm very disappointed that my school isn't offering Philosophy this year. I mention it here because I am thinking about making all of my students start Livejournals as part of the course assignment. If I do, of course, I'll have to make a separate "school" journal to link with the students'. I welcome any thoughts anyone might have about this. [Just bear in mind that the kids do have to write, and that writing journals is a pretty orthodox assignment, so it would only be the livejournal element, and the attendant inter-active possibilities, that would be experimental.]
Bob and I just got back from seeing four shows at the Shaw Festival, and as usual, the quality was excellent. I can recommend Gypsy, Happy End and The Autumn Garden. We also so the "new" Ann-Marie Macdonald play, Belle Moral. If you saw the earlier version from circa 1993, called The Arab's Mouth at the Factory, you will recognize, and perhaps be disappointed by, Belle Moral. But that's a longish story I won't go into now.
I guess this is sort of a miscellaneous odds and ends kind of posting. I have a number of ideas for more unified pieces, but I haven't gotten to the point of writing them yet.
The City of Paris knows how to say goodbye to its lovers with style.
Well, I've shed my first leaving-Paris-tears. Four days before I get on the plane, this afternoon, I had my final English lesson with Richard. People who read this blog regularly will know that I met him last fall, and since then, apart from his or my trips out of town, we have met at least once a week for what we call an English lesson, but which is so much more. ( Read more... )
1) Your blog provides instructive and entertaining insights into the life you constructed for yourself during the past year by introducing many of the people, places and events that affected you in good and bad ways--along with some wonderful photographs. As you look back over the year, do you feel that your experiences have changed you in any significant ways? Are there things that you now value less or more, for example, or goals that have been fulfilled, frustrated or affirmed? --bobalone
2) How do you feel that you have been "changed" by this experience? I imagine there are subtle ways in which you have allowed yourself to become, at a deeper level, more of who you in fact are. And will you be able to nourish those parts of yourself back in Toronto? I am hoping the answer to the latter is yes! --aa_bronson
( Introspective Answer )
Thanks for asking, Bob. I guess it depends on the weather. It will be July 31, and Toronto may still be in the thick of a heat wave. So maybe one of your delicious Greek Salads, with crusty bread. Or, perhaps Caprese Salad, also with crusty bread. Or Vegetarian Nachos with Olives and Jalapenos at Paupers. Or grilled hamburgers with a thick slice of melting cheddar, lettuce, tomato and mayonnaise. Really, anything at all would suit me just fine.
Last night I ran into my friends Chris and Fabrice at The Glove. At one point in the evening, it looked like they were getting ready to leave, so even though Chris was engaged in a conversation in German with a man I didn't recognize, I went over to say goodbye. They had invited me for dinner tonight, but I had to decline, because I had already decided to go to hear Guy/parisianbear sing in a concert at La Madeleine Church. Chris said to me, "I hope you enjoy the opera," so Fabrice said, "Oh, are you going to an opera tomorrow?"
"No," I replied, "It isn't an opera. Actually, I'm going to a performance of a Mozart Requiem."
Then the anonymous German man turned to me and said, "Are you Paul?"
"Uh, yes, my name is Paul," I replied quizzically. "Have we met before?"
"I'm a friend of Guy's," said the German stranger. "He said that I might run into you here."
Turns out he figured that there couldn't be that many gay men in Paris who were going to a Mozart Requiem the following night, so he took a stab at asking me if I were me.
Okay, that's "it's-a-small-world-after-all" enough for me. However:
Tonight I went to Guy's performance and sat with Volker, the previously anonymous German. Afterwards, Guy and I and Volker went to the Cafe Beaubourg for a drink. Then Guy sensibly went home to bed, while Volker and I went off to the Bears' Den. While there, we started talking about Berlin, and the hotels that we had each stayed in.
"I was lucky," I said, "the last time I was in Berlin, because I was able to stay with a friend who lives on Martin-Luther-Strasse."
"Oh?" asked Volker. "Was it Bernd?"
After we dug a little deeper, we realized that Volker's friend Bernd is the same man that I had met last fall, who introduced me to Lothar, and so on.
Volker is younger and more techno-savvy than I am, so while I went to the bathroom and then ordered us another beer, he sent a text message to Bernd, announcing that he was with me in Paris at that very moment.
By the way: Volker seemed to think that Bernd was as sweet and wonderful as I found him to be.
Ultimately, if it weren't for Berndt (I hope I'm spelling his name correctly), I never would have met Lothar or Rafael. ( He was the guy who invited me to join his table at Prinzknecht )
Sunday morning: there I was, standing in Lothar's kitchen in my underwear, bleary-eyed, trying to measure coffee into the coffee maker, when I noticed that Rafael was gesticulating expressively in his kitchen window across the courtyard. When he saw that he had my attention, he used his whole arm to beckon to me. I shook my head, puzzled. Then he made that "internationally recognized hand sign for 'telephone'."
( The Call, The Night Before, That Afternoon... )
The first time I went to Berlin, I had a number of wonderful experiences. One night in Prinzknecht, a man I had met the night before saw me standing alone and invited me to join him and his friends at their table. It was a largely German group, but there was an Italian and an American and a Cuban as well, so people were mostly speaking English. ( Meeting New People. )