My Uncle B is pretty awesome - you know all those emails home that my mom can't find on AOL? Well my Uncle kept them! He sent me this email this morning:
So what do you get when you cross an info junkie with a pack rat?
An uncle who saves all of your old emails.
Awesome right? Right! I read through a few already and thought that this one would be a great follow up to my last French Riviera Fashion Report. Happy Friday peeps! May you float on into Saturday on a cloud of Lomi Lomi love....
Yogi Yogi Lomi Lomi
written and sent to all of my Americannes friends in 2005
It feels like it has been awhile since I’ve done the big email home thing, last time was probably The Big Break-in which I have since recovered from (thank you French insurance and the fact that I bought some back in July). I decided after my experience yesterday that it was worthy of sharing. And so, here I am.
I just started going to yoga on a regular basis. My friend J (another English assistant) introduced me to the teacher, P, who sports dreadlocks down to his butt and very cleverly coifs them into a knotted bun on the top of his head for class. This coif somehow stays put even through downward dog. It impresses me every time.
I bought the two classes per week for a month package and went to class on Wednesday night. Feeling calm and happy with my life, I decided that I would try to be a really good yogi and go on Thursday morning too (we’ll see how long this keeps up). So, Thursday morning rolls around, I get my booty over to yoga, P has his bun in place and I’m ready to go. I almost fall asleep during the meditation so I figure that I have gotten full benefits of my time and I am now thoroughly convinced that H and my idea of opening a laying studio in San Francisco is definitely going to be a success.
After yoga, I hear P (who lived in LA for three years) telling another student that I am from Magic Mountain. (This is the only thing people associate with Santa Clarita). Hearing the name of my native land I ask the woman where she is from…..turns out that she comes straight out of the bubble which is Irvine. I blah blah blah about how my friend’s dad teaches at UCI and we have instantaneous bonding. She is American, lives in France with her French husband and now duel passport holding daughter (lucky!).
Now, what we didn’t know was that there was another Anglophone in the room who I soon came to know as Jodi. And here is where my story begins. Jodi is Australian, has just arrived in France and speaks very very little French. I tell her of my breakdowns and crying episodes and days when I hate France and she tells me that it makes her feel so normal. So again, here I go with the instant bonding. I’m so good at this. I ask her what she does in France and it turns out that she is trying to start a business with Hawaiian massage. I have never heard of Hawaiian massage, but seeing as how my shoulder is hurting something fierce (thank you H and Kim’s idea to put you on my shoulders whilst walking all around the stage dropping feathers), and the fact that French kinesiologists have so far been no help whatsoever, I am interested and ask her to tell me more about it.
Like a good business woman should, she opens up her backpack which is filled with pamphlets. She hands me one and tells me that I would probably be a good candidate for the Full Body Ka Huna massage or perhaps even the Heartworks Lomi Lomi. Her pamphlet describes these massages as comparable to “swimming with dolphins,” and even something like, “a soul to soul dance.” She also reminds her clients, “Remember, you are not your body, you are not your emotions, you are not your thoughts, you are a spark of the Divine.” I don’t know if I agree, but she sure has got the artsy fartsy thing down. I am now wondering why she chose France and not San Francisco to open her practice. I feel like this would go perfectly with our laying studio. I ask her how she does these massages and she asks me if I would like to take a tea to talk about it. I should have been wary, but I guess I was so happy to be speaking English that I let that feeling go and said yes.
On the way, she started to do this dancey, elbow up and down, hulaesque performance behind me, to give me an idea of the Lomi Lomi and the kind of massage I would expect. Looking behind me to take in the hula goodness, I almost stepped in the famous Toulouse dog poop twice and finally just let her hula alone without spectators all the way to the salon de thé. I took her to a place called La Sherpa (which I just found out is having 10 days of non-smoking inside!...my lucky day!) We sat down, took off our coats, and it was then that I noticed she was wearing a t-shirt which read: Chicks dig Vegans. Underneath the phrase were four baby chicks (obviously alive, because SHE had not eaten them). Now the wary feeling has started to kick in, but I’ve sat down and ordered my autumn tea, and she her anis tea, so I’m stuck. I ask her why she ordered Anis, because I hate Anis (licorice flavored!). She says it is cleansing and that she is fasting today, so it will be good for her. Great. A faster. Who smells like licorice now.
As I add sugar to my tea and as Jodi eats the Anis seeds in hers, I ask her how she ended up in France. Well, she tells me, I work for PETA in London and they asked me to do a world tour. After organizing PETA demonstrations all over the world, I feel like I’ve found a second home in France. Ah ha! A PETA demonstrator. I think I’m wearing leather uggs. Why have I already ordered the tea?! So Jodi’s life mission is to work for animal rights. Little does she know, she is sitting with maybe the most heartless person when it comes to farm animals. (I have gotten much better about house pets I’ll have you all know.) I ask her what exactly she DOES at these demonstrations. She says that she does mostly nude demos or at least ones where she is wearing fur and then someone violently cuts it off of her leaving her naked and smeared in red paint in the middle of the town. Is she an activist or is she an activist. Apparently I missed the one in Toulouse when she stood outside of Jean Paul Gautier dressed in a rabbit head and fur coat and did the whole cutting / nude afterwards bit. She laid there, she says, naked and covered in red paint, until Jacques, the store owner, came out and dumped a bucket of cold water on her which made her go in to shock since it was the middle of December. At this point I’m thinking that maybe the nude demos should be saved for the summer months. She also recounted the time in London, when she streaked at a cricket match with www.veg.com written across her back; the time in Turkey that she got a talking to by the police; the time she got arrested in Germany for storming the United Colors of Benetton store because they buy Australian wool; and the time when she screamed and yelled at people in the Australian Embassy in Paris in order to get arrested, but they just let her scream for two hours until she lost her voice and had to leave. Wouldn’t the humiliation make you stop? Not Jodi. Jodi says that she will do anything. That it’s “so much fun.” And that to help the sheep in Australia, it’s worth it.
I think that my all time favorite Jodi story is the one where she obtained a white Styrofoam meat packaging tray, only life-sized, and proceeded to lay in it naked (and covered in red paint of course) with two other people, and then sealed themselves up with plastic wrap and created a meat sticker to put on top. She laid in Capitole, the center of town in this contraption for hours in order to combat the buying, selling, and eating of meat. “To show people that what they are really eating, is flesh.”
“So you don’t eat meat?”, I stupidly ask her. “Oh, no no no,” she says, “I’m a vegan.” “So what do you eat?” I inquire. “Well,” she says, “I’m a very healthy vegan, so I try to eat 80 percent raw, and I stick to vegis, fruits, and lots of seeds and lentils.”
Sounds tasty. I mention Trader Joes and she is watering at the mouth. She tells me that there is a great health food store near my house that sells almond butter, not too expensive. They also have tofu sausages and vegi burgers if I ever want to try them out. Soy yogurt, one of her favs, is also available. I have to admit that I was slightly intrigued by the almond butter seeing as how there is a very small selection of peanut butter in France. I consider stopping in later, but vow not to take things too far for fear that she might think she has converted me to the land of lentils and succeeded in depriving me from any and all joy of indulgence.
She then goes on to describe the cruelty in which chickens are raised and how, really, you have no idea what you are eating. When I ask her, what, in fact, I am eating when I eat chicken, she uses words like “growth hormones” to describe it to me! I’m getting annoyed at this point because I was looking forward to eating my BBQ chicken leftovers waiting in my fridge, which were supposed to be lunch.
I’m not sure why, but I feel like this is a good time to tell her that she would hate my family. Thankfully, Jodi tells me that “she does not judge.” So I’m safe to tell her why. Phew, because I was worried. I tell her that my dad is a hunter, who learned from his dad, who then taught his son, my brother. I tell her, perhaps for shock value, that our garage freezer is full of dead elk and that the garage walls are covered in deer heads and stuffed pheasant. I then elaborate on our creative family meals of elk meatballs, deer tacos, and pheasant stew. If you’re lucky, I tell her, you get the bullet in your serving. That’s when my dad will tell you which part you’re eating because he remembers where he shot the (insert animal here). Apparently Jodi does judge because she cannot imagine how I can eat that. AND apparently Jodi is curious because she asks me how it tastes in relation to beef. More gamey I tell her. She is disgusted. I am a genius.
I guess in requesting more information about the Hawaiian massage, I was really getting recruited by PETA, because not five minutes later, Jodi was telling me that I should do the “Leopard Demonstration” with her. What does that entail, I ask her. Oh, it’s so much fun, she says. You get to dress up like a leopard and parade down the street waving at the media and carrying the PETA banner! I tell her that I would feel like a hypocrite since I eat meat and wear leather. She tells me it’s okay because the Leopard Demo is anti-fur…so there would be no reason to feel hypocritical. Crap. I feel myself getting sucked in and I can’t let it happen!! I can’t let her recruit me to parade around Toulouse in leopard ears and black nylons carrying an animal rights poster!! It can’t happen! It would go against all my morals!
Thankfully, at this point, Jodi tells me that she has to go. She is expecting a delivery of seven Lomi Lomi massage tables at her apartment any minute. I’m saved. No leopard ears, no laying naked in the meat wrapping for me. No more smelling licorice tea and watching her suck the seeds out of her teeth. No more talk of growth hormones. That was a close one. In parting, I tell Jodi that she might want to check out the market at Victor Hugo that takes place every morning. It might be a great place for your next demonstration, I say. Why’s that, she asks me. Well, you should see the way they sell the animals at the butcher…..chickens and rabbits with their heads still on….sheep hanging by their feet. It’s PETA’s worst nightmare.
ps - the American in yoga from Irvine - it's my good friend over at The Ups and Downs of an American in France !!