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Tag Archive for ‘La Belette Rouge’

Find Belette

Editor, the author and creator of Up and Down Town which is one of my favorite fashion blogs, was kind enough to do a piece starring the two of us. So, are you up to Editor’s challenge to “Find Belette“? Once you have found me please go over to Editor’s blog and find her.

This is not a francophile blog

For most of my life I was not really sure what I liked and what I disliked. Upon that realization I worked hard to discover my authentic preferences and where they came from. Was it me that hated okra or was it my best friend from fourth grade, Mira Jane, who made a face each time the “o” word was said and, so, in an act of solidarity I eschewed the slimy southern vegetable? Did I like jazz because it was the soundtrack to my parents life or did I really love Ella and Billy? Was my love of mythology born out of my own interest or was it because of a certain adolescent Adonis that Eros was ignited for Olympus?

It was during my “Do I really like this?” phase when I first saw the film Le Fabuleux Destin d’Amélie Poulain. I loved the film for many reasons but what I loved most about it was its unapologetic celebration of idiosyncrasies and specificity. We learn who the characters are via their likes and dislikes:”Raphael Poulain likes peeling large strips of wallpaper;lining up and shining his shoes; emptying his toolbox, cleaning it out and putting everything back.” “Amandine Poulain is a school mistress who has always had shaky nerves. She dislikes puckered fingers in the bath, having her hand touched by strangers, pillow marks on her cheek in the morning. She likes figure skaters’ costumes on TV, polishing the parquet, emptying her hand bag, cleaning it out and putting everything back in.

The literary device of “turn-ons and turn-offs” as a means of knowing characters became one that impacted not only my writing but also my philosophy. I started to seek out specificity (, i.e. what makes you, you and what makes me, me and what those specific preferences say about us). I found that people who would have previously frightened me with their passionate love of LEGOS, Star Trek, and Civil War reenactment to have become newly interesting. “So, what is it that makes you love Dungeons and Dragons?”, I would ask rapt with interest.

I had lectured on the film “Amelie” just days before I began my blog. In doing research on “Amelie”, I found a short film by Jean Pierre Jeunet, which he made years before, entitled Foutaises: catalogue nostalgique des plaisirs de la vie . I loved this film. It was a short film about nothing but preferences and it was a major motivating factor for me starting my blog. I decided that my blog would be a catalogue of the pleasures and displeasures of my life.
[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jDnVcLdu1C8]
Another inspiration for my blog came from, of all people, Gore Vidal. I remembered seeing an interview with him years ago on the Charlie Rose show. I don’t know if Gore was on to talk about one of his books, his life or to give insight into his distant cousin. What I do remember is him talking about how in language and writing we have a tendency to modify. We use modifiers in language as a means of not owning our thoughts, feelings and arguments. Gore’s point stuck with me over the years as I had been a big time modifier. I modified my likes, dislikes, thoughts and feelings so if you disagreed with me I could say, “well, I only sort of like it” and that way there wouldn’t be an unbridgeable chasm created between the two of us.

I wanted my blog to be a place where I could have the courage to say what I love and what I detest without modifiers or qualifiers. I didn’t want to have to apologize for my preferences and I assumed I would never have to as I was sure no one would ever show up to read my blog.

For some reason, I decided that I would keep the focus of my blog to French things I love and loathe. I thought I could keep myself secret, hidden and a distant “vous” and never slip into the familiar “tu” form. It worked at first as I do love Paris and am most certainly a francophile. I thought by writing about the French things I loved and detested I could keep a safe distance and never reveal too much about myself. What I didn’t realize was that in revealing what I love and what I detest I was revealing everything about me.

In January 2008 this became a blog about me even though I never-ever intended it to. I had failed to become pregnant after years of infertility treatment and I couldn’t get myself to write about anything but my pain. The loss was so large that it demanded my full focus and it eclipsed my interest in writing about Paris or things French. As the grief subsided my life remained the focus of my writing and the francophile focus fell further and further away.

I am sorry if you came here looking for a francophile blog. I have a whole list of wonderful francophile blogs on the left hand column of my blog, if that is what you are looking for click on over and visit them. It’s not that I don’t love Paris, I do. It’s just that there are other things I love and detest and there are other things I want to write about. I may or may not ever write about Paris again. It is likely I will but I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for it. It could be a long time.

My writing and I may not be your cup of cafe creme. I can be bitter, viscous, strong and on occasion leave a bad taste in your mouth. If my blog isn’t for you that’s fine. I will not modify. I will not pretend to like what I don’t and I will not modify my feelings about what I detest. I am going to keep writing about my life, loves, and hates and part of that is my grief, depression, loss, whining and whinging. I do try to make the whinging funny and entertaining, but it if you don’t find it so isn’t then there are many other blogs to read. My feelings won’t be hurt if you’d rather read about Paris than me prattling on about my life. I get it. Really, if I had a choice between Paris and me I would choose Paris every time. As I don’t have that choice I will stay here and keep writing about the specificity of my life. If this is au revoir for us I thank you for stopping by. It is my sincere hope that you be true to your likes and dislikes; I will continue to attempt to be true to mine.

A house made of Kleenex

First I need to tell you that when I say I am mad, irritated or otherwise perturbed with Igor, my psychoanalyst, it is often code for me telling you that he has brought unconscious material up to consciousness that I would have been very happy to have locked away in the back in the part of my mind that I can’t reach without his assistance. With that said, last week I was mad, irritated and annoyed with Igor.

The session started out well, I think, and after we got through some stuff of not much consequence he asked me if we had been looking at any houses. My first impulse was to tell him to do something which some might consider a highly pleasurable act that involves another and may or may not involve cigarettes afterwards. I resisted my impulse and instead told him about how we had seen house one and two and why neither of them were right and how I had really not liked our realtor and how we needed to find another one and how hard it is. Then, in an ode to Sybil, my personality changed and I turned into a whiny teenager. “But, I don’t want to look for a house. I don’t want to live here. Have I mentioned to you how much I hate L.A.?” He laughed. I assure you that if you heard the way I said it you would have laughed both at and with me. I wouldn’t blame you and I don’t blame him.

I then shared with him my plan. My plan de jour, as you may know, is to find 365 things to like about L.A. and that once I get to a tipping point of liking things about L.A. it is my belief that we will get kicked out of here. So, I am trying to speed up the process and find a lot of things to like as quick as I can. My scheme was too much for him to grasp. He began his response with “Let me get this straight” and then he spoke as slowly and clearly as he can with his Omar Sharif accent “You are saying that if you like it here you will be kicked out?”

“Yep, and I think it will work.” I, for a delusional moment, thought I had convinced him of the merits of my magical thinking.

“It won’t work because you are not really liking things here.”

“No,” I interrupted, “I really do like the Getty.”

“The Getty is not enough,” he said unironically, “What you are trying to do is rush through the life and death cycle that exists in everything. You are looking for things to like, not to be in life and or to live it but, rather, so your grief will end and you can get to a place where you will never know loss again.”

“Uh-huh” I grunted at him like an adolescent with her arms crossed just moments away from rolling my eyes and hitting him with a wounding ‘whatever’.

“We liked Chicago. Maybe I liked it too much. I said everyday how much I liked it. I said it out loud. Maybe if I hadn’t done that we wouldn’t have been kicked out.”

“No, you didn’t make it happen. It just happened that your belief system and your outer circumstances happened to meet up,” Igor explained.

I ignored his answer, “It was like I was punished for liking it. I was punished for being happy somewhere. “

“By whom?”he asked.

“By a deity that I don’t believe in”, I offered weakly.

Igor said nothing. I didn’t give him time.”It’s not fair” I said continuing my adolescent whine that turned ‘fair’ into a four syllable word. “You don’t get kicked out.” I accused him, not expecting he would defend himself “You want to be here and you are here and you aren’t being kicked out. You get to be where you want.”

Igor laughed, “That’s not true. I am kicked out all the time. Just this morning the roads were blocked and I couldn’t get to my office. I get kicked out all the time. The difference between you and me is that I don’t believe that there is someplace that exists that will be free of that and you do.” Again I was wanting to recommend that he do something that the birds and bees and even educated fleas do. I also wanted to explain to him that his being late for work was not the same thing as having your husband’s work bring you back to the one place you never wanted to return to.

“You believe,” he said, “that if you like something it will be taken from you and that is the real issue, not the house buying in L.A. You will have this issue wherever you go and now you are here so lets deal with it here.”

My petulance continued, only I sounded even younger and more whiny, “I don’t want to. I don’t want to buy a house. If we have a house I will be trapped.”

“You think a house is like this.” Igor grabbed a tissue and put it over his hand. He pulled the tissue tight around his hand until he couldn’t move it. I could feel myself constrict and my breath tighten as I looked at my two-ply makeshift metaphor of a home.

He continued, “This is like your mother. If you connect with her you have no space and you feel stuck and you can’t move and you can’t breath. Mother equals home, hence home equals trapped.”

He was right.

I tried to hide any hint of affect on my face that I agreed with him so I could stick with my story. “Can’t it be that I just hate L.A.? People do hate places. It is done. Can’t it just be about that?”

I was in a total snit and I was mad and I was feeling stuck….really stuck. I was filled with an “I’ll show you”attitude that I hadn’t had felt so strongly since the dark days when I was dating Danny, donning Dittos, eating Dorritos and discovering that if I waited until my mother passed out I could sneak out my bedroom window. I wanted to leave Igor’s office and go straight to the airport and buy a ticket and go somewhere and call him at our appointment time next week and tell him that I am not there and that I don’t have to be and that I left and that I got out and that I would never-ever-ever come back again ever, only I didn’t.

It is a week later and I am still here and we have another realtor and we looked at another house that we don’t want and we found another house that we might have liked if it hadn’t been sold out from under us. The funny thing is that I don’t want to tell Igor any of this. I don’t want to give him the satisfaction of knowing that we looked. What I want to do is tell him that I don’t want him to ask me about houses anymore. Even if I managed it and even if he agreed, the damn Kleenex would be there sitting between us and silently reminding me.

No labels, please

Years ago I had a friend who explained every thought, feeling or impulse I ever had on my ennneagram number. And, she may be right that I am “such a Four“—and that all I do, think and say is what a four would do—but I am not just a number or a diagnosis or a Myers Briggs type. No one, I feel sure, likes being summed up to a number, a label or an astrology sign.

Recently a friend from non-bloggy life boiled down my blog to a formula: “One day a week you write about a product. One day a week you write about something personal. And, one day a week you write about hating L.A.” I have to tell you that her accurate assessment made my blood boil. Something about hearing my blog formula from another (in what felt like less than complimentary tones) made me feel as if nothing new or novel can exist outside of the expected and that I am trapped in a pattern of behavior and being that are beyond my ability to control. It felt as a reductive as the enneagram assessment. Maybe my enneagram loving friend would say that my anger at being labeled and having my blog labeled is a four thing. But I bet ones, twos, threes, fives, sixes, and sevens wouldn’t like it either.

I want to prove my friend wrong and write about politics, poetry, polemics or Poland or something outside of her pre-conceived expectations—something other than my hatred for L.A., my love of J Crew charm bracelets, and my sessions with Igor but at the end of the day that is all I have. It isn’t a lot, but it is what I have, and everyone says to write what you know. Oh, and, she failed to mention the Lily category. See, I have more than three topics.

Having said all that, for the last couple of months I have been trying to label my blog. What is it, anyways? It is not a fashion blog. Gosh no. I don’t look at fashion magazines and I don’t even know what is in style. If it weren’t for Couture Carrie, WendyB, and Savvy Mode I’d never know. I am no longer a francophile blog. Yes, I am a francophile and this is a blog written by a francophile and occasionally I talk about my love of France but mostly I don’t. It is not a “writer’s blog” even though I write about writing. It is not a dog blog, or a relationship blog or even a home blog—-but I do talk about all of those things. And, it is most certainly not an infertility blog even though I have moaned about my infertility almost the whole time I have been blogging.

I suppose that what this blog, over time, has become about is me and my life. Yikes. I never meant for that to happen but it did. When I tell people that I write, outside of the blog, about my life I feel no shame. Personal essay and memoir are respected genres. But when I tell people that I blog and they ask me what it’s about I stammer and stumble and hemm and haw. It sounds terribly narcissistic to be blogging about myself and why do I assume that anyone will care about me, my therapy, or what I am thinking. I sort of endlessly assume that no one will and then I am surprised that such lovely people show up and read and comment and add so much to the conversation and to my life.

I love writing and I enjoy my topics, even if there are only four of them. In time this could change and a year from now this blog could be all about the poetics and polemics of Polish potters. I doubt it, but it could happen. Change is possible even if I am a Four, Pisces, XNFJ who has temporal lobe epilepsy.

La Belette Blond Vénitienne:*Pictures of me*

No, I know that is not me. I am not Julia Roberts. I am sure that comes to a huge surprise to you all. Mais, c’est vrai. Yes, today, I am going to show you a picture of me in my new hair colour but I have to tell you that my Blond Vénitienne actually looks a lot more like Julia’s colour than how it looks in the picture of my hair below.

It is so strange to be a Belette Blond Vénitienne after being a Belette Rouge for the better part of my life. It will take some adjusting to. Truly, every time I see myself in the mirror I am surprised. Qui est elle?

Also, I am not at all sure about what colours and makeup will work on me now that I am a Venitian blond.

I do have to tell you that I prefer blond vénitien to strawberry blond. Strawberry blond makes me think of Strawberry Shortcake.

I am not sure how the English came up with calling reddish-blonds “Strawberry blond” and the French came to associate it with Renaissance Italians. According to Wikipedia: “Le blond vénitien est un blond à reflets roux.”

“L’adjectif blond vénitien (invariable) tire son origine de la Renaissance italienne (dont Venise est un des foyers), lorsque les femmes s’enduisaient les cheveux d’un mélange de safran et de citron puis les exposaient au soleil.”

“Les cheveux blond vénitien sont composés de faibles quantités d’eumélanine brune et de phéomélanine.” Huh?

So here is a photo of me: Ta-da! You asked and here it is. Me. What you think of my new colour? Hee-hee! You knew I wasn’t going to give you a full facial shot. Didn’t you?

I haven’t been a blond Vénitien long enough to comment whether or not they have more fun but I am happy to report that as a blond I will not have to go to the hair salon as frequently. I might be able to go as infrequently as every four weeks and that is much more fun than every three weeks.

Finally, I will not be changing the name of my blog to go with my new hair colour. I will, in my heart, always be une Belette Rouge.

He-weasel and Lily on the beach

He-weasel running to keep up with Lily

Saturday He-weasel and I took Lily to Ventura beach and at first she was a bit unsure about the sand. She put her first paw down gingerly and looked at me with questioning eyes and upon seeing that I was willing to walk in it she then decided it wasn’t so bad, the same with the ocean. Upon seeing the ocean she stood back for a few seconds and then decided to jump in full force. Lily, my friends, was body surfing. It was amazing to see her jump in so boldly, bravely and totally fearless. She amazes me.

Lily apres-surfing asking me where her wetsuit is

At the beach Lily made two friends, one a huge Labrador retriever named Sara and a boy Shitzuh named Brandy. Once again, her extroversion demanded I talk to other people. It is getting easier and easier to talk to strangers especially as all they want to talk about is Lily, one of my favorite subjects.

A private moment between father and dog-aughter. Try and tell me they aren’t cute and you will learn what it is to be at the wrong end of an angry weasel.

After our day at the beach Lily, He-weasel and I went for Halibut and chips( Lily had treats and water) as we waited for our lunch He-weasel broadened Lily’s vocabulary and taught her important words like, “rats with wings”. As we ate our lunch people stopped us countless times to tell us that she is the cutest thing they had ever seen. I think it was good preparations for our days at cafes in Paris when otherwise cool, chic and aloof Parisians will trip all over themselves to tell us, “elle est très mignonne.”

I know the pictures of He-weasel still obscures his face but it is the first time any pictures of my woozle have been posted. And, for you Oregon State University fans, you can see that he is wearing Beaver orange. Go Beavs!

About Me

My name is Tracey, aka La Belette Rouge. I am a psychotherapist and the author of Freudian Sip @ Psychology Today. I blog about psychology, my therapy, dreams, writing, meaning making, home, longing, loss, infertility and other things that delight or inspire me. I try to make deep and elusive psychodynamic concepts accessible and funny. For more information, click here .
These blog posts are informational only and not meant to replace individual psychotherapy, counseling or medical advice. If you are in need of help, reaching out to a professional may help you decide how to proceed or how to find the care you need. For a referral, contact

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