I’m in Paris!

M. Balard's buzzer.

Seriously, don’t even bother getting jealous, because here’s all I’ve seen: the inside of an apartment; my computer screen; the rain. The timing of this trip is a little wonky due to a tight deadline for a piece I’m super excited about—news on this later—but suffice it to say, one doesn’t come to Paris to see one’s own words being written and then deleted on a screen.

In the span of three days, I have managed to eat one croissant and a sort of embarrassing amount of paté, so things are looking up.

Also, today I saw this insane osteopath, which is what I’m here to tell you about.

When I came to Paris three years ago in an enormous amount of pain and completely desperate for someone to heal me, the first thing I told Noelle was that I had had surgery and that it had been a failure.

“Don’t you have peasants back in the U.S.?” she asked. She said “paysan” because this whole conversation was being conducted in French, so this might not actually translate as peasant, but suffice it to say, I took her to mean someone with miraculous hands, but no medical training. In other words, someone who would be arrested for touching you back in New York.

Her “paysan”—who turned out to be an osteopath—came highly recommended, so even though I had been traumatized by a particularly bad one in New York who shoved his fingers where they shouldn’t have gone botched my X-Rays, charged me $500 and called me “sweetie,” I went.

M. Balard wore a loose-fitting blue silk shirt and black slacks. His brown hair flopped on either side of his head like a puppy’s ears. Like Noëlle, he didn’t care about MRIs or X-Rays.

The office windows that faced the bustling street were slightly ajar. I stripped down to my bra and underwear—the French don’t believe in gowns—and positioned myself on his table.

His approach was positively acrobatic: He twisted me into positions I was convinced would land me in the ER; he shook my pelvis in a way that even the most adventurous sex never had. One of the most scandalous maneuvers involved me sitting with my legs straddling the table while he stood behind me with his arms wrapped around my torso in a giant, backwards bear hug. Together we would curve to the right, forward and then to the left in a quick, rolling motion, like I was back in a modern dance class. I basically spent the whole session hoping he wouldn’t paralyze me.

He did five or six different crazy things, collected my money, and sent me on my way.

But slowly, I started to feel better, so I returned several times for more.

A week before leaving Paris—I spent two months working with Noëlle—I went for a visit. By then things were on the up—hours or a full day would open up before me uninterrupted by pain. I credited Noëlle and M. Balard in equal measure. My life—or, a life, for this didn’t resemble any life I had had before—was coming back to me. Happiness doesn’t begin to touch the surface of what I felt. Free at last was more like it.

“I need to see you one more time,” I said, opening up my datebook.

“No,” he replied. “We’re done.”

In all my years of forking over enormous sums of cash—and a little piece of my hopeful heart—to healers, never had one of them refused my money.

“Everything is in its right place now,” he said. “Now your body has to teach your mind how to not be in pain anymore.”

My pain pathways, he explained, were overdeveloped, so they would scream at the slightest disturbance. But when these pathways started to understand that there was nothing wrong—the bones and ligaments were now finally where they should be; I was no longer technically “injured”—they would learn to quiet down, and the pain would slowly recede. I literally just had to believe it, to convince my brain that that was true.

It turned out he was right.

So every time I come back to Paris, I go see him and we do our weird acrobatics. Today he told me, with a huge roll of the eyes and this funny “bof” sound the French make, that everything felt so much better than it had three years ago.

This doesn’t mean I’m never in pain—I’m lying in bed as I type this—but it doesn’t last, and I tend to still panic panic less. There’s hope.


Have You Been to London?

My next question is: Did it make you fat? I swear to God, these Harrods All Butter Crunch Biscuits — pictured at right, yes one of them is half eaten — are going to be the death of me. David tried to convince me that they were semi-healthy because they contain oats. (Oats are listed after flour, salted butter and brown sugar.)

He and I bought said death-sentence treats on a wonderful week-long trip to Oxford and London, where we stayed with dear family friends in Hampstead. We barely left the gorgeous five-story townhouse went to the National Portrait Gallery where we looked for the nap room were convinced that every single portrait was of Freud. We also drank a lot of Guinness tea and ate an absurd number of scones with clotted cream and jam. I almost got run over every single day once before getting used to looking RIGHT when crossing the street.

The highlight of the trip was a long morning talk I had with our 70-year-old hostess. She lived most of her adult life in Nepal and India and practices yoga and meditation for four hours a day. She reminded me that for neurotics like us — East Coast Jews — meditation practice helps us “get out of our own way.” We practiced the complete yoga breath together (or what others call three-part breath): inhale into your low belly, mid-belly, upper chest; then exhale from the bottom up. After a brief session, we both landed a little more firmly on the earth. (She employs it during family vacations. Take note.) So I’m hereby re-committing to a sitting and brief pranayama (or breathing) practice once a day.

After that, I’ll have a cookie. One needs incentive after all.

In other news, if you haven’t yet read my piece about Munich — in which you’ll learn all you ever wanted to know about German pools! — you can do so HERE. I’ll love you forever. If you repost it, I’ll love you into my next life. xox

On German Pools, Linguists, & the Meaning of Language

I am very happy to share the news that I have a piece up on The Millions today! It’s my first pseudo-love letter to Munich, and also to David (or, the first one I am sharing with all of you). Here we are (not) drying our hair and looking uncharacteristically serious after a lunchtime trip to the Nordbad, our favorite German pool, which you’ll read all about in the essay by clicking HERE.

On a side note, the book that’s leaning against the mirror — French: A Linguistic Introduction — was, no joke, David’s tram reading. This will make more sense after you read the essay and find out a tad more about him. My tram reading usually looks more like this.

Let me know what you think! xo

Oh, and PS: I’ve finally joined Twitter, so help me God, so you can follow me here!

From the Annals of Not Quite Right, Munich Edition

Last night my boyfriend and I ate dinner at home then headed out for drinks, where, as usual, he ordered Helles steak frites. German menus look like hieroglyphics to me, but a little bird told me that the dish was listed under the heading TIERISCH GUT, which literally translates as “Animal-y Good,” or, if you’re feeling frisky, “Beastially Good.”

We’re off to London, where surely steak will be listed under something like Mad Cow Meat.


Week II: Five Things I Liebe About Munich.

Or: Fünf Münchner Dinge, die mir gefallen (“Five Munich things that I like”).


We’ve been here a little over two weeks now, so I’ve finally accumulated enough information to make a comprehensive very rudimentary list of things I adore about living in Bavarian Country.

1. At heart, I’m really neurotic a simple girl, so I like a life of ease. I’ll start with the basics: Our building has a trash chute. A trash chute! I mean, what is this, 1980s Manhattan? We also have an elevator, which, if you know anything about me and my body, you know is the greatest gift a girl could get (other than a washer/dryer, but we’re starting small). No more trudging outside in my pajamas and Crocs with a bag o’ trash. Woohoo!

2. You have to pay for plastic bags in the grocery store! This, of course, means that people bring their own bags. These folks also actually recycle. They insert their plastic bottles into a machine that then spits out coupons to be used at that grocery store in return. More on the preservation side: Have you ever taken a shower in Germany? Let’s just say that the water is off for most of the, uh, experience — unless, that is, you want to douse the whole bathroom and everything in it, which, believe me, I’ve done — but it certainly saves water.

3. The beer yogurt: Rosebud, Mango, Violet. Yum.

4. The pool. Germans take their pools as seriously as New Yorkers take their figures gyms and yoga studios — they’re open all day, everyday. Ours even has a tram stop named after it: Nordbad. The dressing room is co-ed. One day I’ll explain how this works, but suffice it to say, I’ve seen things.

5. Being on the same continent as my man. Had to be said.

Okay, clearly I need to get out more.


Only in Europe

…would a Miss Piggy lookalike go buck. This was taken at my favorite Munich haunt, the Nordbad. It literally translates as, “First, a thorough cleansing, even if you just showered at home.”