La Mère du Psycho: Break on Through

I first visited France in the summer when I was 23 years old.  I fell in love with Paris and vowed to move there and forget about the U.S. forever.  I just returned from my second visit to France.  I am 46 years old.  I was traveling with 9 of the people I love most, on a trip of a life time, that was spectacular, amazing, and for me-very, very bittersweet.  I rarely use that word: bittersweet.  It seems somehow connected to the word regret, and I try to stay out of that.  I decided that I was going to enjoy watching my children discover the wonders of Paris and there were things that was going to do-even if I had to do them by myself.  One of those things was that I had to get back to visit my old friend Jim. It had been 23 years, after all.   The 20th arrondissement was a long way from our loft house on Avenue de Clichy- a metro switch and about 14 stops.    Finally, on our last day, after a trip of a lifetime (that you will be reading more about in small segments), JC, Mini Me, The Middle Child, The Baby, and my cousin Clint went with me to Père Lachaise.  Jim Morrison

I have had a thing for The Doors, and particularly Jim Morrison, since I was a young teenager.  Of course I never had the opportunity to see them perform live- Jim died when I was almost a year old.  I have read a few of the books about The Doors… Jim’s poetry…done a little research….you know, the things an obsessive teenager does when they are infatuated with celebrity… There was a very long period of time (and yes, I do still wonder)  that I believed that Jim did not actually die in Paris-that perhaps he did manage to fake his own death and run off somewhere to live the rest of his life in peace.  23 years ago, my visit to the grave of Jim Morrison was up there with seeing the Eiffel Tower for me…maybe even higher.  When I came home from France that first time, I said that ‘when I die, I want my ashes taken to Paris and put on Jim Morrison’s grave’.  Everybody thought I was nuts.  I’m telling you–my thing for Jim was huge.  It has never really waned-just filed away as I grew older. Notice that I did not say ‘as I grew up‘…

Père Lachaise is enormous.  The website says that there are up to 1,000,000 people buried there and there are over 5,000 trees.  It really is a beautiful cemetery-the most beautiful one I have ever seen.

Many important people are buried there–Balzac, Sarah Bernhardt, Chopin, Molière, Marcel Marceau, Proust, Oscar Wilde, and Edith Piaf, just to name a few.  The graves are very close together and it would take days to see every one.  There is a map to help visitors find people they are looking for, but even still, one can get lost easily!  I started to recognize the area when we started getting close-mostly because it is flat.  My heart sank when I saw that there was a police barricade around Jim’s grave (and others).  There went my chance to recreate my photo.  There was also a small crowd of people.  The fleeting thought of jumping the barricade crossed my mind, but I shooed it away, reminding myself that I am insane…. LOL  😉  JC looked at me.  He knew how important this was to me–ridiculous though it may have been.  He started to try to figure out how we could be there when the place opened first thing the next morning, I could jump the barricade, he could take the picture, then we could get back to our place in time to leave for the airport.  I thought about that for a few minutes but the whole idea seemed destined to fall apart–we would never have time to come all that way in the morning when we were trying to leave! Then, Clint (my cousin who is 2 weeks older than I am, and who is more like a brother to me)  said, any true Jim Morrison fan would jump that barricade….Mini Me said, I’m doing it. And he did.  Right there. In front of the little group of people who were standing there.

 

JC said, why don’t you just let that be your ’23 years later’ photo?  I stood there-wheels spinning in my head…We did not need to come all the way back down here the next day, and, I was not getting any younger. My ballroom days are over, baby…Night is drawing near…. Here we were in Paris. Finally. 23 years later.  The time to hesitate is through….no time to wallow in the mire…try now we can only lose… Jim would have jumped that barricade, no doubt. jim-morrison-1 Then, I heard somebody whisper (I’m pretty sure it was Clint 😉 …BREAK ON THROUGH…. and that was all it took.

 

Five to one, baby…One in five…No one here gets out alive, now….You get yours, baby…I’ll get mine…Gonna make it, baby…If we try…..

If there is one thing that I can encourage my kids to do, it is to spend time in France.   Go to school there. Move there. Do it. Make it happen. Who knows? Maybe I will do it someday. If not, I still want my ashes taken to Paris and put on Jim Morrison’s grave–  I’m still nuts. And I no longer care what ‘everybody’ thinks 😉

 

 

 

Where the Rubber Meets the Road

Yesterday, my cousin (who is more like a brother to me than a cousin) Clint and I went to Road ATL to watch my brother, Eli, race motorcycles.  Clint drove up from Madison, to my house, which is actually in Atlanta, and we drove from my house to Road ATL.  I find it somewhat ironic that Road ATL is on the Winder Highway, in Braselton, GA, 40 miles away from my house, which is in Atlanta.  I was not exactly sure what I should wear to the race.  I mean, I knew I could wear shorts.  I opted for a striped, sleeveless, $15 dress from Old Navy, and threw on my running shoes.  The Middle Child said it looked terrible.  Clint said he hated it, too. It wasn’t the dress-it was the shoes with the dress.  OKAY, OKAY, fine, I said.  I went and put on my old, black, flat, glitter sandals with the ankle straps.  I felt overdressed.  JC said, It’s a spectator sport.  There will be lots of people there who are dressed up. You will be fine.  Here are your dressed-up spectators, Honey:

Thank God, Clint and I did a drive-by before we actually parked and got out.  We split the scene and found the nearest Target so we could buy me some flip-flops and us some chairs (We did not find those bleacher thingies until after we went to Target. LMAO)  Also, we went through the busiest Chick-Fil-A drive thru of all-time.  It was so busy, it had to have it’s own traffic director.  Unfortunately for you, I did not think to get a picture of that.   We got back to Road ATL, ate our lunch, and Eli told us where we should go to watch the race.   So, we went. We took Safety with us.  The dog. Safety is Eli’s dog.  SafetybotThe bikes are really, really loud.  We were almost at the very end of the track, and we could hear them coming literally-a mile away. Okay, well, it probably was not actually a mile.   It sounds like a really loud swarm of bees at first, then it is unmistakable–at least to me, but I grew up around motorcycles.  They would go by so fast, that it was hard for us to find Eli at first.  We knew what his bike looked like: eli's bike.jpg

And we knew that he was #418.  His helmet is black.  His suit is black and white.  None of that information narrows it down very much. Several in his group have similar colors, even though I don’t think anybody else had that exact same combination LOL.   They are all going so fast, that it’s hard to see their numbers until they get right up on you–and, you are not allowed to get that close to the track.  My 46.5 year old glasses-wearing eyes could barely see the numbers at all…until it was too late!  I started taking pictures of everyone, knowing that eventually, I’d get him in at least one! (These are all him) (I think) 😉

They race in groups by experience. Eli is in the Advanced Group.  The groups race for 20 minutes at a time and go once an hour.  We decided just to stay where we were and not go back and forth to the Main Paddock.  I had water for Safety (the dog, remember?)  The next race was at 3:00.  We were waiting for them to start when we saw 3 ambulances with their lights on, coming down the track.  That was very unnerving.  I looked at my watch.  3:02.  I figured that was not enough time for Eli’s group to have even started.  It was someone from the previous group, and we heard later that it was bad.  We had positioned ourselves, our chairs, water, and Safety down at the very bottom of those stands.  This was quite a hike and really good lunge exercise.  I ended up having to go up these damn things 4 times–to get random shit out of the car.  For this second round, we had set up a little farther down-so that we could see the bikes ‘do the S curve’ before they went up ‘Wheelie Hill’- a hill that lots of them did wheelies on because when they come out of the S and start up the hill, accelerating their speed, it’s on the engine and gravity.  The motorcycle’s engine supplies more torque through the drive train to the rear wheel than the gravitational torque….click/boom: WHEELIE! I saw more wheelies yesterday than I have ever seen in my life, and it was au naturel…nobody was showing off.  We somehow totally missed Eli’s 3:05 (post ambulance) round. In all of our intent searching for him, we never saw him go by. LMAO. In our defense, there was a lady there, photographing the whole thing for a friend. Her friend had texted her that his group, The Novice Group, had to stop mid-session, due to the big accident.  She thought that his group had come back out at 3:05.  Somehow, ‘black helmet, #418, white wheels, red bike’ were all just too much for me to look for at the same time, while the bikes were all going 180mph.  Finally, at about 3:55, his group came out and we spotted him 😉  That was when we got our best pics.  It was also when they got the red flag and had to go in early. The red flag means somebody has had an accident.  We knew it was not Eli, because we actually got pics of him holding his arm up (to signify that he had seen the red flag) and going in.  Now, at the time, we did not know what all of this meant, so we just sat back down and hung out.  About 15 minutes later, I got this text:  text

(Those pics are some I had sent Eli after the first round we saw) So we gathered up all of our shit, and Safety, and we headed back up those big, bleacher thingies one last time.  I decided my knees did not have it in me, so we walked all the way over to the edge and walked up the ramp–luckily, I think Safety knew he was going back to Eli, and was excited about that, so he pulled me up.  When we got to the landing at the top, we heard another group start up. As we were almost to my car, Safety stopped dead in his tracks–like he was not going to move.  He knew. Or at least he thought Eli was coming back out on the track! “Come on, Safe!” I said, “He’s not coming back out-that’s another group. Daddy’s done! Let’s go!”  He walked on and got in the backseat of my car.  When we got to the Main Paddock, I got him out of the car, and he walked me, very briskly, back to Eli! Safety knew exactly where he was!

Eli 418I see now why Eli loves racing so much.  I felt free, just being at the racetrack. I can’t imagine what it feels like to be driving that bike.  I don’t really want to try that. I think I might feel like everybody else was chasing me-and that wouldn’t be fun for me.  I used to ride a Honda Trail Bike (motorcycle)  on the farm (a lot, not just once)  growing up–and I loved it.  It was very freeing.  We did dangerous shit like that when we were young. We actually lived to tell about it too. Imagine that.  My adrenaline was rushing, just watching them.  I must add my Ricky Bobby commentary (even though I am well aware that Ricky Bobby raced cars, not motorcycles) Talladega Nights  remains one of my favorite movies of all time…..It was a beautiful day at Road ATL….for those who like to go FAST…..we did not have our cougar, Karen, with us, but we did have our Labradoodle, Safety….. These men are the best there is. Plain and Simple. They wake up in the morning and they piss excellence….Maybe Eli and Elliott (the guy he rides with) ought to consider changing their names to El Diablo and The Magic Man… 😉  I’m just sayin’ ….will you at least consider saying ‘Shake and Bake’? You know, like before you start the race? LOLOL Please? 🙂

I HAD SO MUCH FUN!!! I CAN’T WAIT TO GO BACK! Back to this place where the rubber meets the road. I hope it’s soon. Next time, though, I’m wearing shorts.

EPILOGUE:

After I finished this post, I remembered an integral part that I had inadvertently left out. I thought about just leaving well enough alone, but alas, I cannot 😉 And, actually, it’s two integral parts.  While we were watching another group race, I saw somebody lay their bike down hard in the S curve. The guy flipped (his body) four times, and landed in the gravel.  I gasped and jumped up out of my chair.  The hair was standing up on my arms.  The guy just got up and walked away.  The suits that they all wear do exactly what they are supposed to do: protect them.

During the round that we missed Eli–when we kept thinking that he was not out there (and he actually was LOL), it crossed my mind that perhaps those three ambulances we had seen had been for him! Nobody that he was with knew me. I thought that maybe, just maybe, somebody had seen me, in my black and white convict-ish striped dress, and new flip-flops (that I tripped over more than once) taking Safety off with me. Lots of people seemed to know Safety.  And maybe, just maybe, somebody would have the wherewithal to come and look for me-if something had happened.  Nobody ever did, and then, of course, I got that text from Eli….so, you know. Anyway, on the way home, I shared that little psycho tidbit of information with Clint 😉 I think it was probably one of those things that you think but should just not share 😉 Clint burst out laughing. He said, Jennifah! I can see it now. Next time we are here, you are gonna be handing out business cards to all those people down at the Main Paddock! You’ll be saying, “Here’s my information, please call me if something happens!” My VistaPrint order should be here in about a week, El Diablo 😉

IMG_47763 amigosRoad Signs ATL

 

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