Life is short. Live your bliss.

SS cards and cashI turn 65 next month and I’m not so sure how I feel about that. On one hand, with two cancer scares behind me, I’m thrilled to be able to celebrate the milestone. On the other hand, damn, how’d I get to be 65?

Wasn’t it just last year I had my first crush on the Lone Ranger? And my second on Tonto. Too bad I wasn’t smart enough to know they maybe had their own thang goin’ on, but that’s a topic for another post.

I was going to share ten things I’d learned on the way to social security, but around number seven my attention snagged on “life is short, live your bliss.” So I did a major slash and burn of the post to focus on bliss.balcon4

But what is my bliss?

Well, writing of course.

Showing my love for others.

And Paris.

I’ve written a couple books set in the City of Light, and since we are planning to spend most of September there before flying on to Berlin for a week, Paris is uppermost in my mind. I cannot wait. The city beckons like a new pair of red stilettos or chocolate decadent cake or worn soft bed linens. We’ve rented an apartment for our time there. This will be the view from our balcony.

Paris holds a special history for my husband. Calvin grew up in the south during the Jim Crow era. There are still emotional scars from being treated as “less than.” And it is those scars that make him the gentle, caring man he is today. He was in the Army, stationed near Manheim, Germany when he came to Paris on a three-day pass. In this city, he was allowed to walk into a restaurant, to sip espressos next to white patrons and to look a white woman in the eye without fear of retaliation. In his words, “I was born in Virginia, but my soul came alive in Paris.” So after he earned his Masters in sixty-seven, he moved to the jewel beside the Seine for a year and wrote daily at sidewalk cafés, absorbing French culture.

He took me to Paris for a couple weeks on our fifth anniversary nearly five years ago. Without gushing about the city and her architecture and museums and pastry shops—oh gawd, the pastry shops—let me just say I fell in love, too.

But you have to laugh at our circumstance. Calvin, who is 15 years older than I, can’t hear well. He wears a hearing aid. However he is fluent in French, whereas I only speak a few words. We’d gone through customs at the airport when I spied our driver, holding a sign with our name on it. I displayed my vast French vocabulary by walking up to him, smiling and pointing to my husband and I. “Oui.” He rattled off remarks with machine-gun rapidity. I turned to Calvin for him to translate and he said, “What did he say?” Well, hell, I couldn’t repeat it. All I could do was laugh at the absurdity of the situation. Thus began our Parisian adventure.

I have a tendancy to gdurex-play-warming-lubricantet into odd situations when I travel, especially overseas. While in Paris, I walked into a pharmacie, so noted by the green cross above the door, to buy more lubricant. You know airline regulations. Only so many ounces of lotions and potions. It didn’t take us long to use up one small tube of love lubricant. I stumbled and fumbled with the Parisian salesperson, trying to hand signal what I wanted. I’ll let your mind create its own visuals here. A Sorbonne student set down his guitar case and placed a hand on my back. “Bonjour, my name is Jean-Pierre. Does Madame require some assistance?” I nodded. “You wish to purchase what item?”


His dark eyebrows rose to the kiss the dark curls falling over his forehead. “Like I use for anal intercourse?”

Well crap. I sighed and studied the ceiling for a beat. “For intercourse, yes. Post-menopausal women are often dryer.” Oh gawd, let the ground open up and suck me and my dry self in.

He told the employee what I wanted and why. The middle-aged woman looked me up and down and muttered something in response.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

“What did she say?”

“She said you are too old for such foolishness.”

I laughed. “I’ll never be too old.”

To pay him for his kindness, I bought him an espresso at the café across the street. Jean-Pierre was from Avignon and had come to Paris to study art and music. We had a delightful conversation that covered topics from our home towns to philosophy and politics—and to being gay versus being straight. He still emails me from time to time, beginning each message with Hello LL (lubricant lady). Which begs the question…why do people call me by initials? Most friends call me “V.” Jean-Pierre, who’s living in Rome now, calls me LL. Imagine: Me, a woman of letters. And, no, FU is not one of them.

So, after all my nonsensical rambling, I’d like to repeat my mantra. “Life is short. Live your bliss.”

Bliss is what makes your heart sing. Your soul sigh. Your mind retain as sweet memories. What is your bliss?



  1. Oh, Vonnie, I just love you! This was both empowering and entertaining. I’m so happy for you and Calvin – what a lovely adventure you’ll have! And your apartment…awesome! Looking forward to hearing about your escapades.

    My bliss is definitely dancing, reading, writing, and being in nature – preferably by a body of water. When I kayak or paddle board in the still waters of our lake, my batteries get a total recharge. Laying on the beach is another source of bliss.

    Great topic, and happy early birthday! You make 65 look damn great! xoxo

  2. What a fabulous story. I love that JP was quick to help. How great to find someone open to discussing sex with a stranger in a non-salacious sort of way. Just goes to show, we find alliances in the most unexpected places.

    Happy 65th birthday. What a tremendous milestone. I’m a firm believer in celebrating every year. Heck, I even have a glittery tiara to wear on my birthdays.

    My bliss is sharing a daily laugh with my family, writing, and sitting in the sunshine on a warm summer day. I think I’ll adopt your motto. “Live your bliss.” Yeah, I really like that one. 🙂

    • Europeans are more open to sex than we are. Part of our puritanical settlers mind set has filtered down, I’m afraid. JP was a delight that day and we struck a fast friendship. He’s so interesting.

  3. Love it, V. Yes, I’m one of those who thinks of you in terms of an initial, because only one letter is needed to identify a heart as big as yours. And you know, I just realized why I connected to you the moment we met. You live by my father’s life philosophy. “You’re only one conversation away from making another friend.” I could totally see him chatting with Jean-Pierre, though he may have chosen a more conservative topic. 🙂

    Happy birthday, my friend. Have a blast! You deserve it.

  4. Thanks so much, Mac. I’ll cherish that compliment. Congrats to you, dearheart, for landing an agent. Yay you!!!

  5. Yes! What a great mantra, Vonnie! You ought to track down that salesperson and gift her a bottle of lubricant! You had me laughing and cringing with that story 🙂

    IMO, bliss is found in the simple things. Hubby gave me a picture for my office. It says LIVE LOVE LAUGH and above each word is a picture of our kids. Yep, doesn’t get any better than that 🙂

    Happy Birthday, Vonnie!

  6. Awl, hugs, Rachel. I bet that photo is sigh-worthy. BTW. The heroine in my first book is named Rachel. Love that name!

  7. You are fortunate. A sixty-five, you now have something to write about and no longer care who reads it.

  8. Delightful, post, Vonnie. Getting older is bliss in itself. The father of one of my daughters has just died at 65. He and my husband did Indian Princess with the girls together eaons (sp?) ago. So bliss is living in the moment, writing, keeping on-keeping on, and staying in Maine as often as possible. 🙂 Thanks for a great post.

    • Oh, hugs to you. I’m sorry you’ve lost a friend. Shakespeare once wrote “Praising what is lost makes the rembrance dear.” Remember your friend with praise. Make that a part of your bliss as you keep on keeping on. Thanks for sharing.

  9. Great post, Vonnie. Love the story about Jean Pierre and the pharmacy. Hope you have a wonderful time in Paris, and Happy Birthday!

    • Thanks, Renee. I’m eager for September to come. Calvin is brushing up on his French and I’m trying to finish some writing projects. Planning a trip is nice, but allowing yourself the freedom to experience the unexpxected and meet new people is more important. Jean-Pierre was a bonus to our trip. A new friend is always a treasure.

  10. I love this story! I fell in love in Paris, well – my boyfriend fell in love with me there! Thanks for taking me back momentarily.

  11. Josie Matthews says:

    V.!!! Love it! Sorry Im such a late-comer (computer virus). I’d love to see Paris someday…but not just see it on a quick vaca…id love to LIVE IT! You and Calvin certainly have the right idea about bliss….be yourself, love your hearts out, make the most of every minute…
    For me, id have to say bliss is being in a place where there is no negativity and total inner peace AND THE BEST DAMN – NO HANGOVER – MOJITOS. When you find that place….buy me a ticket!
    Love you Von!!!!

    • Josie, Paris changes you. You must go. I tire easily of all the negativity, too. Factions trying to prove the other is wrong instead of dealing with problems. People who love to insult and belittle. I just want to slap ’em, but then that would make me as bad as they, wouldn’t it? Needless to say, I’m more a lover than a fighter…just don’t get me started, ’cause my inner bitch WILL end things.


  1. […] the kindness of strangers in Paris when you need some […]

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