Lost in Paris – Judy Guilliams-Tapia


For a long time, I have felt caught up in a whirlwind of busyness, pulled in different directions. Managing teams and projects at work while striving to meet tight deadlines and keep narcissistic bosses happy. Nurturing my two kids into young adulthood but never feeling like I had given them enough of my time. Shepherding my aging parents, as much as I could, through the loss of their health. I have rarely found time to just be, to just be me. Despite having a loving husband who has made me laugh every day with his irreverent Chilean sense of humor and has helped keep the household humming, I have often felt overwhelmed and robotic. As though I’m never DOING enough. My brain has long been like a thundering locomotive, barreling day and night through the peaks and valleys of my life, with only occasional stops to refuel. At night it has often awakened me with ideas bursting forth about items to add to my long to-do list, so I keep a pad by my bed to jot them down. Despite my vigilance, or perhaps because of it, some personal calamities have crept into my life, such as two bouts with breast cancer, the first right after my second child was born and the second ten years later. With no time to dwell on them, I took them in stride. However, the national calamity that began with the U.S. presidential election of 2016 weighs heavily on my mind, adding “resistor” to my other roles and making me addicted to my cell phone’s news apps, which continually stream alarming news. 

As an undergraduate French major in the mid-seventies, I immersed myself in the poetry of the symbolists of the late 19th century, who wrote about their tortured souls and bohemian lifestyle in Paris with a world-weariness that I found intriguing. I displayed the poem Enivrez-Vous (Be Drunk), by Charles Baudelaire, on my dormitory door. My college-self loved the poem’s distaste for stark reality as well as its call for inebriation in any form: So as not to feel the horrible burden of time that breaks your back and bends you to the earth, you have to be continually drunk. But on what? Wine, poetry, or virtue, as you wish. But be drunk. I chose wine and poetry. 

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