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2020 – Good Things Happened – 2021 will be better – even it is just a better me.

Happy New Year! This post is a compliment to both a facebook post about some joy captured in 2020 and to our 2021 New Years card. The gift of 2020 (for me) was a slower and more intentional approach to being happy. It is a gift that I am exploring ways to share. My ideal method? – let’s talk! – Looking for Randy and Chris updates? – read on, check social media and call me for all the truths we are living. I like to talk. Duh…

It’s been a rollercoaster. I headed into 2020 with a lot of anxiety about what my company would do (my team and I had just rebooted and fixed our sales challenges), Chris and I were renting out our home and moving, and it was clear that Covid would change the direction of the dreams we had- but in general, things were looking up. Things ahead of us were generally good, that is, if we could look away from the shit show of 2020 that was emerging around us. Both Chris and I embrae the positive and mini-victories because we have each other and because we have gained perspective. We got through AIDS, we’ll get through this. My rollercoaster is less bumpy, or I am accustomed to the twists and turns. After many laps and loops, I have more skills to adapt. I’m enjoying the ride, at least I don’t feel like I’m going b to vomit.

Turning 50 was tough. In hindsight I’ve read and learned about a KNOWN mental health challenged most men encounter between the ages of 48-55. Midlife manopause. I had lots of internal and external presssure to embrace 50 as “no big deal.” This was especially true from those that love me that had already made it solidly and healthily through the occasion – and though their efforts were in love and meant to be helpful – very often they were not. In light of Covid and all the other geopolitical issues, my ego and the universe of me turning 50 paled in comparision. I got that. While I empraced the truth and learning and love in all of this, my 50th was tough. Shadows of that time still haunt me. I’m better now. One of my big 2020 successes? I admitted I needed help. I asked for help. I got help. I took steps to help myself. I constantly reminded myself of the love and support I have and that I earned. I dipped into my own resevior of resources, grit and resiliance. I took some steps, most of which I’m still taking – and I feel better.

I am better.

Throughout the year I also have been thinking a lot about my mother and others in my family that have or have had depression or other mental health issues. I am being open and public about mine, in part, to try and stop the isolation I perceived my mother to have with her challenges. I look back and remember her sometimes distant and sad face, her deep sighs and feel seen in my own challenges. Luckily she would light up, recover and sparkle like a firefly at the site of her kids (regarless of whatever bullshit we were pulling) and (especially) her grandchildren. Even more luckily, she was surrounded by her kids and grandkids often. This didn’t, however, erase her sadness and challenges. I am looking for and finding the things that make me sparkle not to hide my challenges, but to counterbalance them. That, for me, is what 2020 has been – about finding both balance and counterbalance. This extrovert uncle is looking forward to a vaccine and a big fucking group hug. Hell, I’ll be the weirdo with the “free hugs” sign. Covid be dammed. I’ll enjoy the bumpy roller coaster despite my inclination to get off and take a nap instead.

Before I move on to a 2021 filled with “great, it’s not 2020” expectations, I have been thinking that there are a lot of things I really, really enjoyed about 2020. As I embrace 2021, I am focusing on that. Here is a partial list:

  • I’ve found my inner introvert and embraced the daily snuggle as well as a quieter internal monologue. (yes, I do have internal thoughts not externally expressed)
  • Chris created the 50th celebration to be remembered in the height of a lot of personal and professional uncertainty, proving yet again, I married WAY up.
  • My pod found some quieter ways to enjoy downtown and togetherness- I’ve discovered new ways to love Trish, Den, Zola, Oscar, Dani, Gracie, Alex, Skeeter – and I smothered them in bread and cocktail experiments. We had amazing (safe) visits to our pod throughout the year.
  • I found refuge in the Bay Area, metaphorically and actually – and we were safely evacuated and suffered no damage from the fire. Jim, Marilee, Elizabeth, Cindy/JaNell – provided homes away from home – safe, welcoming and warm.
  • a RAIN (Tara Bracht) based meditation practice has deepened my personal resolve and strengthen a core friendship
  • Got off Wellbutrin for all the right reasons and had all the desired results.
  • We moved – mostly managed by me – Chris and team opened Casa Secoya -we watched families come here and have a joyful moment or two in the midst of certain uncertainty.
  • Been inspired by parents – and especially the Brandts and the Grey’s – on how they have worked to cherish the time with kids and create a sense of stability normalcy while the world freaks out. And the Brandts can crush a cocktail gift basket – that alone was inspirational.
  • I worked the election polls and got to make as many poll dancing references as I wanted.
  • Chris and I had some lovely alone time that didn’t feel lonely – it actually helped make 2020 a pretty great experience.
  • I can look at the nonsense of Trump, social media, Fox news and not get swept in or swept under – I still see the strength of our democracy and the resiliance of our collective political will. Soon the village idiot will have his mic turned off and we can go back to a more normative and values-based engagement.

2020 – it was a tough year, sure. We had food, health, housing, love and friendship. We don’t fear unequal treatment under the law because of the color or our skin. So, we push for change and count our blessings. Mostly, however, we do like our parents did: we work hard, play hard and take steps towards our goals without waiting.

2020 was filled with great things too. I want to focus on that and would love to hear something that was good for you this year- and yes, I’ll still join you in prayer for the end of the challenges – but for me and for now, I am celebrating the good in 2020 and now 2021 (not the least of which is the END of 2020!). That celebration probably starts at home, with me- trying to be a better me. Have an idea on that… fire away, I’m open to suggestiosn.

Have fun, laugh often @randymarcotte

Uncle Randy

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3 1/2 days of vacation – and a bit of reflection.

We went off to a small bit of vacation, such that we can during this 2020 upside down, ass backwards shit-show. It’s been lovely- and it has been weird. 2020 is so fucked up I even went on a stay-cation without a selfie stick. The world really is coming to an end. Chris rejoiced.

Despite the obvious issues of 2020, we are able to report that we are well. Chris is settling into a system at the motel… and the motel crew continues to focus on the opportunities such a unique and beautiful property present. He had a rough patch trying to balance the logistics of aging infrastructure, clogged toilets and budget-busting events – oh, and evacuation, smoke, fires and pandemic paranoia. We push each other to step back and absorb the fact that we are often the first travel event for our guest, the first happy weekend getaway they have had since March.

In a bout of optimism, we renewed our passport pictures. Ok, maybe it is also a bit of self preservation. We need an escape hatch.

Going out for a drink or for a meal was weird. Utensils are plastic wrapped. Hand sanitizer is everywhere and there is the occasional glare as someone walks by– how DARE these guys sit, drink and have fun outside without a mask!! So I might be projecting. Maybe they are jealous or just can’t stand the backdraft of their mask breath. It might actually not be about me or us. Vacation brings up weird thoughts.

This break wasn’t long enough, but I have some time off coming. I will need to shut down my company- and we are planning to go on limited staff and unemployment for at least a month. During that time I’m going to clean out some old pictures, dismantle and old blog and repost some vacation memories. I’ll work on a new skill (I have not decided what that is yet) – and I will volunteer for the November election. We were able to rent out our condo and reduce our expenses, so our financial situation is LESS precarious, though neither of us expected to be in our 50s with this type of anxiety.

And I joined AAPR. I’m going all in on this BS. I’ll take my 10% off at the buffet thank you very much.

A realization that struck me this morning – our core pod, our core circle of family and friends are doing fine. Real estate sales are good, teachers are working, our retired buddies are relaxing and Chris and I have a stable home. When planning this trip we had 3, 4 amazing opportunities and places to stay.

Another realization – there are lots of people struggling to make sense of the Covid-19 reality. Some of our favorite restaurants are boarded up and with them the dreams of those families crushed. Lots of people are trying to pivot- and we are among the lucky ones. Boarded up buildings and stores throughout Oakland and SF have become canvases for artistic expression. For the rest of 2020 that is what I’ll do. Unemployed? Sure, find a new skill. Income down? Fine – bake your own baguettes. Distracted? Yes- play Fortnight and crush a kid or learn a new skill. Uncertain? Join the club – and take suggestions and ask for help. If you have any, I’ll take ’em.

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Turning 50: Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien

May 15th, 2020. 8 days until I’m 50. Fuck! I got old. Occasionally I harken back to my late teens and the memory of my younger self. As I watch my nieces and nephews have their senior year celebrations deconstructed and reconstructed I am saddened. Would I have been so resilient? Are they as resilient as they seem? Does social media afford social honesty? Should they have to keep their chin up when everything around us is breaking down? With this, I have also been visiting the sounds of my youth and graduation. In the event you have a flair for the dramatic or can be drawn to the melodramatic (like me!) listen to Edith Piaf and “Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien”. It’s magical. Like 1989 the Smith’s magical. Morrissey off of anti-depression magical- and, she sings dark and deep while she sings triumphant hope “All the things that went went wrong, for at last I have learned how to to be strong.” The pain in her voice contrast with the joy of self-revelation and scar-born knowledge that lifts her. “Neither the good that was done to me, nor the bad. No nothing, no, I don’t regret anything.” Depression, this time of uncertainty and disruption, our political climate and my struggles with my ageing have me searching: Am I living a life where I don’t (or won’t) regret anything?

I have been listening to podcasts and watching some Master Class videos as I sort this out. It has not been easy. This has been a rough year and lead up to 50 has been weird. Did you know we were all going through a collective viral nightmare? From social media, distance socialing to massive unemployment it seems like someone just threw a really big pile of shit into the ceiling fan and we all didn’t realize we were standing under it. The fan is on high! It’s messy. I’m messy. Prior to all of this collective “oh fuck” reality, I was struggling. In his Master’s Class, the author David Sedaris posits the idea that a story worth being told will knock on the door to remind you it needs to be told. I like that notion. Hearing from others that turning 50 is “no big deal” or getting loving coaching that I should “get over it” has not been helpful. I have been vocal (shocking) on that, so luckily this phenom has subsided. Thank you dear friends for listening. For now, I want to stay messy. I’m turning 50 (as are many of my dearest friends) during a panic and pandemic. It sucks. My story, Mr. Sedaris? Knock, knock… uncle Randy is a mess, for now. That’s my socially distant, emotionally honest truth.

This is not to say I am desolate. Far from it. I have more now than I ever dreamed of before and everyone and everything thing I need to be fine forever. I will continue to thrive and post pretty pictures of food, family and friends. I AM fine – Fucked up, Insecure, Neurotic and Emotional? Yeah, I’m FINE. We used to say that back in the AIDS epidemic during support groups. Our friends and family and clients were dropping like flies. How were we? We were fine. But yes, I’m OK. I will continue to be more than OK. I have a life full of love. CoronaTimes have allowed me to circle the wagons around what is core and Chris and I have been in our love bubble in ways that comfort, console and create new levels of love. We plan to spend my birthday alone – good thing, because we technically CAN’T get together in a birthday bash- but luckily for extroverted me, I’ll be exactly where I need and want to be. We’ll do a bash when I turn 60. Fuck COVID-19 2020 and fuck turning 50.

You see, I did not think I would make it to 50. When I think back on my melancholy Morrissey phase, coming out (badly, in some cases) and living through the gay holocaust, getting to 50 seemed like a bridge too far. Why should I make it if so many others were not? Is Corona my new AIDS? Will I lose as many friends now as I did then? Good God, I hope not! I know why I made it AND I have no regrets. I have kids in my life to unduly influence and family to love. I made great decisions and I worked hard. I have sales to make and dreams to chase. I am GLAD I have made it and I am looking forward to a lot more to come. Life is a marathon and I have a lot more of those to run. I just have to work on my achilles.

Achilles? Yeah, it’s that annoying and needed thing that make the foot motion of running pretty or painful. Stretching helps, and technically my running has never been pretty, but both my achilles historically have been strong. Mine have been a problem as of late and especially as I have been leading up to 50. It tabled my 23rd marathon. It sidelined my endorphin rush. It darkened a trough in my depression in the fall of 2019 and it puts fear in me as I lace up my sneakers. Yesterday I ran 5 miles and this morning I ran 4 and right now I have no pain. I have a resting heart rate of 46 bpm still. I can heal. I can run. Stretching helps.

50 has forced me to stretch my mental achilles too. Perhaps it was the Smiths or too much Thayers street as a kid, but seeing a positive path forward has not always been clearly defined, nor finding it my core super power. Corona is creating collective depression and anxiety, so I don’t feel so alone these days. Over time, my mind and heart have played tricks on me, and so if you have not dealt with bouts of depression or trauma induced sadness, I offer this mapping. This has been the story that keeps knocking.

I look in the mirror when I am sad and I see my mother. She was always known generally as a happy and loving person. She saw opportunities with optimism and her family as her abundance of wealth. She loved the spotlight. She love the sound of her own voice and if you needed an opinion, she’d offer it. Ok, she’d offer it even if you didn’t. She would also drift. She would sigh. At times her eyes would go off and she’d come back with a start. This was most often a morning thing and I attributed it to the fatigue of life (8 fucking kids…) the lack of coffee, the joys and annoyances of my dad, or the burdens of the day. She mourned the losses in life. I started noticing this when she was approaching 60, but it had always been there. She had a rough childhood and now that I’m pushing 50, I am sure she had moments of depression. Honestly, that comforts me. I am not alone and hope she knew she wasn’t. There are others in my (and your) family. We are not alone.

Last fall- on a Tuesday, at dinner with Chris, after he had been away, while we were at a Korean restaurant, while we were laughing (back when we used to laugh at crowded restaurants)- I let out a deep distant sigh. I drifted. He caught it. He asked, lovingly “Where did you go?” I had been having a rough month. He knew that. My business had nearly failed. I felt trapped. I felt like I was failing. I was anxious about my 50th. We had just come off the discovery and conversations that my desired and dream birthday celebration was not going to be possible. Life was getting in the way. Smart and correct family decisions had unwanted impact on me. “I went to Friday”, I explained. I paused. “This is how my depression mind works. I am here, joyful, happy, laughing and completely with you. On Friday you leave. I’m not well and you will be gone for three weeks and I know I need to be here and now, present, focused, loved. But the fear of the unknown, the sadness of Friday and the prospect of the treadmill of Monday alone is equally as present. I’m going to be miserable and sad. I know it. I hold both. Both coexist equally and sometimes sadness wants my attention. It’s exhausting. I know I have no control of the future and can’t predict. It could be fine! It takes so much effort to keep negative thoughts at bay, because, unfortunately for now, I’m sad. I’m broken.” I cried.

He was perfect, and crushed. Through tears he consoled, “That sucks. And I am so, so sorry I cannot carry that for you or take it away.” He showed his pain and joined me. I wasn’t alone. Was my dad so helpful as Chris? Were any of us kids? Chris is special, so I don’t think we did much in comparison, but we did well in our own ways. We showed my mom we needed her and she was loved.

I am much, much better since that Tuesday. I am feeling quite healthy, actually. Corona cuddling has help me nest and be at my best. Both my mental and physical achilles are healing nicely. I have to keep stretching, and hydrated. Vodka counts, right? For now, I’m staying on my meds. During my time in AIDS services, I had a posted in my office (and them home) that made people uncomfortable- it’s rough: Don’t Fix My Anger, It’s Not Broken- but it is also clear. It was made by a gay man whose family shunned him. He then later died of the virus. I think today’s poster would be similar in theme, but different in message. Don’t Fix My Broken, It Makes Me Whole. Heading towards a healthy 50 in these dystopian times has felt broken. I am not proud to admit it, but I am OK with not doing this gracefully. I will likely dislike 50 until I am 60. That part is real. I am now, however, more open to thoughts and advice on embracing 50, but what I really like is knowing that I am loved. Start with that. Oh, and once we all test negative or positive, have full PPE suits or have adequate treatments, prevention and tracking, I could use a hug.

51 Days in making me 5150 crazy ready! oh, and Seasons Greetings

I am working with a common mental health idea that if a problem is socialized, shared, and explored in a community, it can be changed naturally. This is true to for community problems, like the shitstorm of PTSD we have from the Covids. Today was a good test for me, and I got some Christmas cards out the door. I got distracted and delayed on anything strategic I attemped to work on. We decided to be nomads and see what uncertainty would generate. I have to embrace that. Internet connection was crap, so I got jammed up with work. For the first time in this trip, Mother Nature has thwarted our plans – we are stranded in Laramie and a trip through Seattle for play now is at risk. Omicron news is starting to raise flags for international travel- and we are not sure that we will be able to leave once we get into Canada. Is anyone else fucking sick of Covid?

We are grounded in each other and resolute that this time in our lives will mark an important discovery. Discoveries, actually- we hope. We don’t know exactly what we will discover- but we are clear that the blessings of this unique adventure will pave the way for the next phase of our lives. We are getting mildly desperate to be “home”, the cats settle in nicely each day, but are anxious. I am beginning to use them as an excuse to stay put (just not here) They did better today than I did – the day goes on the board as one of those lost days to the blur of “I don’t know” – Can I get online, can we get through the road closure, can we get a covid test so we can get into Canada??? – there is a LOT going down in the next few days and to much of it all we can do right now is embrace the “I don’t know” with the warmth of knowing we will figure it out.

I am desperately stalled at work – a concept that befuddles me. I have always been a Type A and overachieving (near) workaholic. I like getting things done. I’m glad to be merging with people I respect, I am getting a modest payment and salary and will have equity in a new and more lucrative venture. But I’m still stumbling- the stress and fog of the last two years have clipped my ability to focus. Couple that with cat distractions, great streaming content, Fortnite, and social media – and I’m languishing. Languishing – it’s a term related to the experience above described in a podcast Ten Percent Happier and in the New York Time by Adam Grant – It is worth listening to: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/19/well/mind/covid-mental-health-languishing.html

Are you languishing? What does that look like? How do you cope? I’m staring to work out more (or at all, actually) and drinking less.

My word for this year (2021) – Relentless – did certainly help me get out of my 2019-2020 serious bout of depression. So too did meditation, love, and great friendships. I had a better end of 2020 and 2021 than I expected and better than most- but languishing – has dulled my motivation to fight (relentlessly) for a defogged vision of my happy places – and I have many, many happy places. Don’t get me wrong – I’m happy – but I don’t want to continue to participate in the social nature of toxic positivity. Covid fucking sucks. Work is hard. Aging sucks too, so I want to go into the holidays with my eyes open and my heart ready for happy places and faces.

That will make it better in 2022 and empower my word for the year: Unexpected.

Expected. Uncle Randy is a sloppy, happy mess! Unexpected – I never thought my company would be sellable. Expected – despite Covid and the rural isolation of Monte Rio, I remain motivated and ambitious. In 2022 please help me search for and see the unexpected and welcome whatver that brings. Perhaps we will still be in the car – so if you get an expected ring at the door- get ready for the gays and the cats. We have a litter box and like to travel.

We are using my office address for Holiday/Christmas/New Years cards. We will try to do more than stick the card in an encelope and lick it – but please don’t take is personally if we don’t write anything – car writing is not my favorite.

This Christmas Chris and I go back to our core. We have chosen to have a quiet and intentional day- we are planning to sleep in. We’ll video chat with family and friends and embrace what Vancouver offers in the winter.

Relationship status: It’s complicated.

Well…. actually it is not. We simply had to ask, “Are we happy? Can we be happy here?”

The cat is out of the bag. We will be moving on now that Chris, Alex and the teams have created a magical destination – we are ready to find something next. Truth is- Chris has been struggling alone for a very, very long time- something pretty posts and pictures do not capture. For the most part, unfortunately, he has been in a system that has made that struggle very lonely- and we see no hope for meaningful change anytime soon.

We count and love the victories – which are many. With the latest covid trends, the stalls in the management overlay getting stratigic things done here (try tying a shoe in Sonoma County with the right permits!!) – Chris is a glorified housekeeper. Granted – the house is amazing – but that’s all there is.

Boo hoo… we are stuck in heaven. As I had climbed my way out of my own depression funk (with the help and support of many others…) it has been gut-wrenching to watch Chris slip into one of his own. How do we know this is right? -The mostly joyful conversation we have had in the last 4 months was one recently where we embraced the uncertainty, decided to trust one another’s guts, and made an exit plan. The terror of the “what ifs” morphed from the excitement of “why not” – and the knowledge that together we can figure it out. If covid sequestered in life-work situations that are unhealthy… what if we just started over? The answer was clear… why not?!

Casa Secoya- it’s complicated. No regrets. We love this project and place- and recently nice people have been coming out of the woodwork to take off the masks, show a covid vaccination and seek friendships. A new crew of friends and family are emerging. I’ve stopped posting and writing about our experiences because for every two joyful encounters, there is one really bad reminder that we are isolated and stuck. It is like eating something tasty that only sometimes gives you an allergic reaction – the best idea is to eat something else. We’re hungry.

Hungry? Nope- not pivoting to another bacon, sourdough (though I have one in the works), tomato or food porn post – we are hungry for work and a living place that provide more balance, more achievable challenges for him (beyond getting the gas or sewer vendors to actaully show up), and more social, intellectual and playful engagement for us. I am so consumed by work and helping here I’m having a hard time maintaing my own mental health practices, let alone help Chris. We are not victims, not complaining, just making choices.

Many, many people have been invested in our happiness, our success and have witnessed this journey with excitement, support and love from near and far. Most do not know the full story, so hence the motivation to post again and with such directness. When do we leave? Soon, but only when the property is ready and when Chris is ready. We’ve not seen his family or most of mine in two years- and our families of choice have been so bunkered down, we find ourselves rebuilding or creating bonds. We are rebuilding on our own terms- opening the sails and letting uncertain winds pull us home, wherever that may be. For me- I’ll be with Mr. Yummy – and home is where the heart is.

Everything else is a bonus when you’ve already been given the prize.

2016 repost: Day 13 of 21 Selfies en Provence

Today [yesterday at this posting]  – was a nice simple day.  I don’t have much to say that is unique. I got the You Are #1 sign from #BadMrYummy again. Like a couple of times. In my video panorama of the #Cassis harbor, even some of the on-lookers give me the hate look.

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Hater Cat- I tried doing a selfie with this pregnant bitch. All she has was a starfish salute for me.

We slept in. Work kept me up late Friday night and I needed to unwind a bit. It was cloudy and cool -great sleeping in weather until the neighborhood kids went outside to play and make a ton of noise laughing and running. How dare they! Little French bastards. Don’t they know how to play a video game or how to watch some TV. They ran and played and yelled all day. I bet they didn’t catch one Pokémon. Lazy, lazy French.

I’ve been embracing my scarf, outfits that are a bit “artistic,” carrying a man-bag and a pink hello-kitty selfie stick.  Yeah, the flashing neon sign reads Homo!  I get it. 

However, we had what could be considered an anti-gay comment/experience. Hold up- while maybe I could be outraged or offended, here’s how I see it.  This was a cultural exchange and a meeting place. We were getting to know one another in a passing glance. She said (in an outside voice, which she clearly through was an inside voice) “Les Ploufs!” – translation: “The fags!” to her husband / other who also had missing teeth and wore clashing, grease-stained clothing. I am sure that at about the same moment her big mouth said “The Fags!”, I MIGHT have had a facial expression that said to Chris – “Oh look honey, French-white-trailer-trash! How quaint, let’s take a selfie with them!” Again, we were acknowledging difference and seeking understanding.

It reminded me of the time my mother visited us in San Francisco.  She was outside a major shopping center with Chris, I was just coming up from the train to meet them and a “little person” (wait for it…) was walking by. Lillian says (in the same inside voice she taught me), “Hey, Hey Chris (as she points with her cigarette laden double fingers) ITS A MIDGET!!! Do you see the MIDGET??”  The woman was about 3 feet away from my 4 ft 6 mother, likely just an inch shorter.  She shot a quick glance at my mother and realized she was just a country bumpkin and excused her “charm”. My point. Yeah, the world is full of a lot of difference and diversity. Sometimes it takes a few interactions to get the lingo down and understand one another. This does not mean “fag” now is less offensive, I’m just saying “les Ploufs” sounded more like we were being observed in a zoo or as a piece of art by someone who had not met “our kind” before. I was a piece of art to her, we were the unknown and she was trying to figure me out.  Good luck!

For the rest of the morning, we wandered the shops and stress of Cassis until the sun broke through the clouds, then hopped on a tour boat of the famous Calanques – which are just stunning.  http://www.ot-cassis.com/en/calanques.html We had a Pastis – a local favorite aperitif, came back for a nap, walked the street to hunt dinner and snap pictures. I spent quite a bit of time on the internet learning the population, industry, history, and politics of Cassis. I could live here.

If you have some time, click on the images below to expand them. The views have been amazing.

Our waitress corrected a wayward wine choice and we dined to the sound of the ocean, kids playing in the plaza and other diners enjoying the feast.  Portions here are big and the prices match, so we will need to plan some budget eating in Paris, or more likely when we get back home. Yeah, right. Vacation. Budget. Foie that!

Day 14 – Tomorrow’s post – well, that happened today.  I’m not sure what I will say,  It was one of the best day of my life, one of the best vacation days ever. I am bursting with gratitude.

Bonsoir!

Uncle Randy

2016 Repost: And Speaking of Death, You’ve been around this vacation. A great topic for a vacation blog, right? Well, I think so. It must be the full moon.

I have picked up a project for this trip. I am testing this wordpress blog as a future way of fixing my personal website. On that personal website I have posted pages about my mom, dad and the Texas family killed by a stupid train – Josh, Jennifer, and Donald – have all be on my mind a bit as I copy content from those old pages. I’m extracting content for later and I’ll revise or post again. I can’t believe it has been 10 years since I wrote this: https://wordpress.com/post/randynmarcotte.wordpress.com/89

I’ve also been doing some drawing – doodling mostly. On our way out I grabbed an old sketchbook. Years ago I scratched out a couple of drawings of my nephew Anthony before he drowned. That was the first really shocking death in my life and had a profound influence over me throughout the years. He was such a sweet boy. I only wish I had then some of the skills I have now to help Jeanne and Donald deal with the hell of his death. I wasn’t of much use then but when I remember how happy Anthony made me and those around him, it inspires me. If childhood (any maybe childish) simplicity and sweetness can be so impactful, perhaps we should all regress a little to childhood?

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I just can’t imagine what Susan and Jeanne must do each day to hold the memories of their babies close as the world moves on and writes more stories. It is so shitty that the story of Anthony, Josh, and Jennifer didn’t continue. They would have been awesome at selfies.

My mom’s birthday anniversary fell during this trip, though I often carry her in my heart, I know this marathon, this trip to France and some of the things were are seeing and exploring would have excited her. I miss how I would tell her stories of things that made me happy and that made her happy. That’s the superpower of a mother I suspect.  I’m not sure she’d understand that I skipped Lourdes. My dad scratched out his thoughts on life in letters and I have that posted. I toy with turning his journal into a book of some sort. I would love to have a conversation with Clovis again. Seeing his words again make me sad for his death, though he and my mom both died surrounded by love. I suspect that if dad lived now and had a blog or Facebook, he might respect the selfie as the artistic expression of self that it is. I suspect that Lillian would join Chris and detest the selfie. I’m carving a space. C’est Moi!

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It has been sweet to have Chris by my side as I get reflective, slow down and take stock. I often joke that I #marriedup – but it is no joke. I am the luckiest man in the world to have someone so kind, loving, attentive (he is out fetching me a croissant and coffee as I write) and comforting. He embraces me as I embrace my mood-swings, joys, depression and random thoughts – and yes, selfies after selfie after selfie. Anita, my heart breaks for you and the loss of Don. I just don’t know how you do it and even though we don’t speak of him often, know that I often hold you in my thoughts and prayers.

During this trip I’ve been thinking about Josh and Jennifer a bit because of the picture I captured of their footprints. Seeing that picture again during this trip has me sad for the loss of more footprints they could have left on the world, glad for those that they did leave. It also struck me that I should spend as much time thinking about the living nieces and nephews and celebrate their footprints equally.  It seems ironic to not revel in the joys of those living as much as I often revel upon the memories of those lost? Perhaps is it is as they say – remembering those gone helps keep them alive. I just wish these two sweethearts had more time to explore and experience the things that would bring them joy.

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We also had the honor of joining Jean-Jacques and Alain gather in stories of Alain’s deceased wife, Lillian (yeah, just like mom!). They also recalled a mutual friend and often through the evening edged themselves towards tears of both joy and sadness as they told stories of people who clearly made them happy. It was very sweet and they often apologized for speaking so much of people we had never met. What they didn’t know is that Chris and I now feel like we have met them and have been touched by their stories. We were honored by the intimate sharing. It’s what we like doing for our dead friends and it was lovely to be part of that memorial giving for someone else. I hope someday people tell the same laugh-filled stories about us.

If they do, I hope they take a selfie.

XOX #uncleRandy #uncleKooKoo

2016 Repost: 12 Days of 21 – Is the selfie really that much fun?

Now one would think that by this time in the annoying travel chronicles of the selfie stick I would have championed the cause entirely and Chris would be a convert. I even brought a second selfie stick for him so that he could join in the fun. It too is a pink hello kitty stick. Alas no. Conversion failed. He hates it. “Je detest!” he says. I say hater’s gonna hate, hate, hate. I shake it off, shake it off, yeah.

Rule #8 – You keep talking about the selfie schtick after I have said “enough” you may find that thing jammed down your throat. Really. Knock it off. Pout all you want. I don’t care.

We both were up and packing up our stuff for an AM departure. Today we travel from Collioure to Cassis, so from the Catalan-France, Roussillon AOC area over to Provence, which is known for all things shitty in France especially the herbs and wines. We shall suffer here for four nights, five days with that 5th day a travel day over to Antibes. Antibes is our gateway to Cannes and Nice (which I hear is nice) where a pile of seafood waits for us at Astoux & Brun – a place I visited years ago with Fr. Jim when we did a cruise together. Someone may need to light a candle for us.

After a quick shot of espresso, both Chris and I walked across the street for a swim. I swam the lap of the port of Collioure which took about 30 minutes and felt great. I must have been a manatee in a past life.  Well, what was until someone ate me. I hope they used garlic and butter and made pate out of my manatee liver. Apparently, all the duck, pick, goose, chicken fat I’ve been eating has created a bit of a wetsuit out of my skin, or a bit of buoyancy. Chris says it is the salt water of the sea, but what the heck does he know? There were only a few fish to see- the ugly little bitter ones that most people do not want to eat. The Mediterranean has been pretty well picked over. Ugly, little, bitter. I think the fish likely thought the same of me.

Lunch was a quick stop off in a coastal town of Sete- which was recommended by our dear Bohemian girlfriend Armelle. Shockingly we had to wash our Moules – (Muscles) down with a nice Rose. They have cute centiliter bottles- 30 and 50 – that have been a better companion than the 750 Milliliter (75 centiliters, 7.5 deciliters) we get in the states. They are also a bit better on the budget. I don’t think I’ve used centiliter as a word since the third grade. I’m regressing. Most everyone knows that already.

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The drive and landscape of trip reminded me of much of the California coast – especially the dry bramble of the Monterey coast.  I found my thoughts driving to the commented we often will say, “it’s a Mediterranean climate” with a desire to pinch myself and say “uh, yeah… well, you are IN the Mediterranean, so here it is just “the climate” you moron!” Our house host had a family emergency so we were delayed getting into the condo. We also had MISERABLE traffic that felt like the San Jose to Sacramento commute, except that is was only 6 kilometers (which took 1 1/2 hours). I did get an AWESOME traffic selfie-video, which I can’t wait to post. Our consolation: more time to day-dream, drink water and have a light snack- because after sitting for four hours in the car after devouring a pile of muscles one needs to snack.

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Foie Moi!

Uncle Randy

Repost 2016: Day 11 of 21 Selfie Chronicles [ oh, and the journey of us ] – Thursday & I had to count the days on my fingers!

Today is to be a day without Foie, alas.  This helped me motivate for my light run around the village of Collioure.  That sounds more impressive than it is.  It was 3 1/2 miles.  The village is small.  It was a stunning run.

It’s Thursday, right? We’ve lost our sense of days and dates, which is nice.  I had to count the days on my fingers because for some reason every time I got to 8 or 9 I got confused – not being able to line up Wednesday with a number. Weird. And really, really first world problems- so I’m not bitching – just noting that it is awesome to have lost my sense of time when (back home) I often feel pressed for the lack of time.

Collioure – Google it – it overlooks blue waters and is surrounded by green hills terraced with grapes and olives. We don’t want to leave and it has inspired us. Do we really need to buy something, or should we just rent for a while?  My team is great. Maybe we can work in the company and live in Europe. Team, what do you think?

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Other than eating – which we do quite well – today was consumed with a touch of work (for good reasons) and meandering the streets and an artists neighborhood. It was fun taking pictures and at one place a woman noticed me snapping pictures of flowers. She invited me into her studio and showed me a hidden room that is the remnants of a natural spring in an air-shaft between buildings. It now serves as her sitting room and lunch studio and really a sweet little escape from everything. How she thought to show it to me or what struck her- I don’t know- but I’m glad it did and she slipped into English she heard our broken French.

We visited a Church shocking, right? An old pretty Church in Europe. So weird. Chris and I have been playing this running joke about churches.  I’ll say – oh, hey, a Church! He’ll say “Jesus lives there.” I then ask “what is Jesus doing in there? to which he responds  “Hanging out.” I laugh every time. At this particular one, we light a candle for our dear friend Mae and said yet another prayer for her battle with yet ANOTHER cancer. We love you, Mae. Cancer sucks and you are good at it. Now stop that.

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Today I really got a sense of place and time in Collioure.  The people we met from here seemed to revel in how awed (odd) visitors are in the place they call home.  It’s small, simple and really quite special.  Two days – sure, enough to get a taste, but we might need to spend a lifetime here some day.

ay.

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Posted byrandymarcotte

2016 Repost: Day 10 Part Deux – of 21 – 1/2 Way Point- I don’t want to go home!

For a transition day, we had an early “ish” rise with Chris focusing on a bit of house clean up. I packed the car and downloaded some documents we needed to review for the new website, which is coming along great. Nothing beats a vendor who has great communication skills. I hope my customers say that about me and my team. We were sorry to leave the lovely home in Pau- and I think I should join Chuck and Tracy for a bit when they venture to France to explore our heritage. 

We shopped a little and I managed to pick up a lovely new scarf all the more to accessorize (excessYOUReyes) with, I say. I found a cute little change pouch to hold all these god-dammed coins we get. A 2 euro, 1 euro and then what seems like 99 other coins for the occasion. Really, so you need a 50, 20, 10, 5, 2, and 1 piece? No wonder the Britts never took on the Euro. I also was able to buy a baguette and 3 pan au chocolate from a cute little hummingbird at the local Boulanger. Honestly, I meant only to buy two and I really didn’t want the baguette, it just seemed so un-French to enter the neighborhood store and not leave with one in hand as the others were doing.

En Route we saw acres and acres of corn and sunflowers and as mentioned in part 1, lunched with Martina.  She started our conversation with a quick reference to the sweet Christmas she spent with us at dear Casa Sophia. Her eyes glowed when talking about it and it made me happy to see our California lives through the eyes of someone who has a house in the south of France. I don’t yet long for home, but I was pretty special hearing how important of a trip that was for her and what fond memories she had of the trip. As I ate the Foix and Pate mix, I looked back at how quickly she slipped into my heart because she covered the entry with duck fat. She’s quite special, so again it made me happy to know we were part of making a Christmas in California memorable.

Another upside of Cassoulet?  More duck, sausage, pork, and bean – all confit – Hell at this point I’m “confit” and loving it. I have fewer wrinkles because I’m bursting at the seems ready to pop.  I’ll bleed lard. Eat me.

The next leg of this trip – Collioure – was a sweet, complete surprise (to me). I didn’t have it in my AirB&B listing, so had not looked up the town nor walked the streets virtually with Google Earth.  Chris is in love with this place and I may have lost him to a city like I did when we were in San Sebastian.

Check out street view of Collioure – it is worth the virtual trip https://www.google.fr/search?q=collioure+france&rlz=1C5CHFA_enUS694US694&espv=2&biw=1366&bih=592&site=webhp&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&sqi=2&ved=0ahUKEwj__ObDp5LPAhWG0xoKHRnsBpEQ_AUIBigB

Dinner was lovely. I went light in a sorta Jamon-Iberico kind of way, which is to say pork me I’m eating fat, tasty pork.  It thundered, rained and lightning struck during dinner and we were able to stroll home to a midnight goodnight to more thunderstorms and rain, all of which was much-needed on many accounts.

Merci for tuning in!

-Uncle Randy

2016 Repost: Day 10 of 21 – Off to Collioure – but first some parts d’ Pau

Day 10 of 21 – Off to Collioure – but first some parts d’ Pau

Yesterday was a beautiful, brilliant trip and we got a much-needed break in the heat and a good soaking of rain. Chris swallowed a duck the night before so I did the first bit of the drive from Pau to a charming little town of Castelnaudary. I had the joy of driving a dozen or so roundabouts whilst our charming brit-based GSP gave me very clear, quite nicely dictated instructions about how to navigate the roundabout. 

Lunch was with dear Martina- a surprise connection from a Christmas past- and she chose a bit of a  sleeper town with a Michelin-star rated restaurant Le Tirou for a light cassoulet of duck, pork, sausage, and butter. Lots and lots of butter. Oh, and maybe some lard to balance the flavours.  And wine. Just some wine. A touch.

Yesterday during the day of no selfie, we survived.  Chris thrived. It’d be nice if he smiled when HE takes the selfie….

  • We skipped Lourdes. The thought of bus-loads of old Catholic pilgrims standing in line in the blistering heat dissuaded me from reach back to the folklore of my childhood.  I vaguely remember little water statues of mary in my house as a kid that was supposed to have come from Lourdes with the idea that if you drank from this Holy fountain you would be cured. I drank one.  Seems it worked! All my life I have been saved from the oppression of a thought-to-mouth filter and because of this mystic drink, I’ve held the ability to say what is on my mind. So don’t judge, it’s a God-given gift. Or it made me gay. Win-win for me!
  • We stayed in Pau  – Its small, sweet and incredibly well suited for a day of simple exploring and rest. We needed it.  Between the marathon, the duck-fat and the Foix on everything, a stroll around a city based in my Basque heritage was perfect. Better still was the company. Chris is a champ. More on that later. He warrants a separate post.

Selfie Rule #7 – No bitching and you are not a victim if you declare a day-of-no-selfie. Shut up and embrace your choices.

We’ve had a fantastic AirB&B experience, so if you are planning on a trip and want some suggestions. We have them.  One note about France – not all places provide sheets and towels and hosts being clear in the instructions when you rent seems to be optional.

Repost: Jour 9 de 21 – Selfies sont amusants lorsque cela est approprié. Il est temps de pause.

Je ne suis pas vraiment besoin de Google traduction pour le dire. Il est temps pour une pause. Nous sommes arrivés à Pau et Chris est un peu sous le temps.

Je ne peux pas penser à quelque chose de plus excitant pour moi et pour nous pour moi de prendre soin de lui, adorez tous ses besoins et d’explorer une nouvelle, stimulante et étrangère emplacement. Je me suis cassé mon téléphone. La connexion Internet est au mieux inégale. Je l’ai. Débranchez et rebranchez.

Jour 9 out. N ° selfie nécessaire.

Au revoir pour le moment!

2016 Repost: Day 8-Pau in Basque Country and what it means to Marry Up

2021 Note: After 22 Marathons I can feel the soreness of my legs after nearly each one – it is terrible, but I always know it is temporary. I feel similarly about 2020 right now – it hurts – hurts to move – makes we want to stay in bed: but if I move carefully, drink water and stretch- it will be OK and be over soon.

2016 Reposting: Up and slow to an easy day. My marathon legs are sore.

We had an amazing place to stay in Carcanes, but this place in Pau blows it away. It looks like we can walk to everything, enjoy the sights and stay a bit above it all in our 3rd-floor walk-up.

It is HOT here – 104 degrees. Luckily the home-owner had the sensibility to keep the place closed up so the condo is quite mild. It’s refreshing actually.  The marvels of stone construction and wooden shutters.

Today we wove-drove our way through the French countryside (mostly post-season dead sunflowers and corn – lots and lots of corn) and enjoyed the air conditioning. The countryside is stunning, but the true beauty of today is the time Chris and I got to be alone together and catch up. These vacations are big for us because we get to stop and think, connect to our dreams and priorities and wonder about what is next. It is a wonderful process and a great list. Here are some highlights

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  • Where SHOULD we live, not just where COULD we live?
  • Due to current living and life circumstances, we are starting to lean away from adoption, so we are being intentional about what that means.
  • Health, wealth, spirit and happiness check-in.  [ the cliff-notes are positive ]
  • Family, framily, friends, and fun – how do we keep nurturing those.
  • Unexplored ideas and dreams- can we find a diamond there and enjoy it?

The biggest joy for me though was the company for the ride. Marrying up means I have someone with whom I can be totally vulnerable, someone I can act a fool around (and do) and yet still have the communication skills to stay connected, aware of each others’ needs and lift one another up to reach our dreams.

Tonight we are off to explore some markets, architecture and the Basque – Pau – French culture.  Luck me!