Finding light

I got distracted by my dog’s vagina (if I had a nickel for every time that’s happened, right?) but I’m back to sum up the final part of our week in Europe.  If you missed the first two parts they’re here and here.


We took a train from London to Paris and went through the chunnel (the tunnel under the English channel) but it’s only cool in theory because it’s not made of glass so basically you’re just in the dark the whole time.  Have you ever traveled with your eyes closed?  That’s pretty much what the chunnel is like.

Also there was a lack of sasquatches:

We ate a lot.

The one thing I really wanted to do in Paris was to see the catacombs so we did that first just in case my anxiety hit and I had to miss everything else and it was amazing if for no other reason than this sign:

No eating. No flash photography. No molesting the corpses.

Also, we went visited a bunch of haunted places during our vacation because I’m a dorky ghost hunter but the only possible ghost picture we got the entire trip was in the catacombs and fucking Victor took it:

If you click on it you can see it larger. It sort of looks like the ghost is wearing high heels and skinny jeans but it’s Paris so I guess even the ghosts are fancier than us.

We went to the Paris Flea Market and I didn’t buy any of these things even though I really wanted to:

I was worried that the taxidermy would get stuck at customs but I did consider buying the girl mannequin. She’s LIFE-SIZED though and Victor refused to buy another plane ticket home and also she looked so real and unsettling that I was a little concerned that she was an actual demon.

We took our kid a show at the Moulin Rouge. There were a lot of nipples but she owns nipples so I think it was probably okay even though Victor kept whispering “YOU’RE A BAD MOM” every time someone took a top off. Also, the show was for “ages 7 and up” so things in Europe are a little different.

We took a boat ride down the Seine and I have a lot of beautiful pictures on instagram but this was a favorite:


We saw the Eiffel Tower and it was very bizarre because it’s one of those things that you don’t think really exists until you see it.  We didn’t go inside because there was a line and it was expensive and I hate elevators and stairs, plus if you go to the top of the Eiffel Tower you can’t actually see the Eiffel Tower, so I’m not sure what the point it.  But we ate crepes from a street vender outside and they were so good I screamed “ALL CLITORISES ARE BEAUTIFUL!” but only in my mind because my mouth was full.  (Of crepes.  Not clitorises.)

We wandered the streets and caught glimpses of the person our daughter is becoming:

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And in the evening the light turned golden – literally – and I suddenly saw why they call it the City of Light.

I tried to find an empty space to see the sun but it just wasn’t possible, so I stood in the deep shadows of the streets and I looked up to watch the light creep in and touch the tips of the buildings.  And I cried a little.  Because for so many months it seems all I seemed to write about was the dark depression I was in…how I was looking for the light.  And I found it.  Maybe just glimpses, but sometimes that’s enough.

It was enough for me.

And I’ll keep these pictures to remind myself that there is always light coming, even if you can’t always see it.

110 thoughts on “Finding light

Read comments below or add one.

  1. OMG can you imagine coming through customs and finding someone who reads your blog. All the taxidermy stuff would get gold access.

  2. Your final sentence here needs to be quoted often. It is beautiful, poignant and inspiring. Thank you for all you share with us.

  3. Beautiful pictures–it looks like an amazing trip. So glad you got to enjoy it, and all the clitorises and skulls–it wouldn’t be a Jenny trip without them!

  4. Absolutely beautiful photos Jenny! So glad this trip had so many wonderful and positive moments for you!

  5. My husband and I haven’t had an international trip without the kids ever. They’re now almost 24. Your pics have convinced me it’s time…

  6. Stunning! You captured the reasons I love Paris, and can’t wait to go back.

  7. You see sasquatch in the lightbulb icon; I see “wifi hotspot” on every campground map.

    We travel full-time in an RV, and it took me an absurdly long time to realize that it’s actually the icon for an amphitheater.


  8. So beautiful. I was lucky enough to travel to Europe this summer with my daughter who is about Hailey’s age. I’m so glad your fog has lifted and you were able to share this memorable experience with her at this amazing age when they are starting to show us the adult they will become. Sending you love and good wishes that the improvement continues. 🙂

  9. I’m so happy you found the crêpes at the foot of the Eiffel Tower. I always ride the carousel and then get a hot fresh crêpe. PS you really didn’t miss anything going up…it’s a tall thing, and really not that tall. Not worth dealing with the people and the elevator.

  10. I cried when I saw the Eiffel Tower sparkle. My favorite part of the Paris leg of my four-legged honeymoon was eating truffle cheese at a bar next to our hotel.

  11. You are amazing, Jenny. A great reminder: “There is always light coming, even if you can’t see it.”

  12. The picture of Hailey on the boat is stunning- it needs framing for always. This series was great, thanks for sharing. And please travel more with your beautiful family. I highly recommend London in off-season. Plus I bet you guys would love Germany & parts of Scandinavia.
    Bravo, Jenny, bravo. 🤗

  13. You definitely needed to get the taxidermy puffer fish! I’m sure you can get that shipped, right?

  14. Damn, woman, you made me cry. Which admittedly isn’t hard. I’m so happy you found the light. And you have helped me find mine too.

  15. annndd… I’m bawling. But the good kind, the kind that comes from beauty and love and relief and seeing the light and the future that still has people like you and this tribe, in it. <3

  16. What a lovely ending to your post! I’ll always remember that. I LOVE Paris, and the flea market is one of my favorite places on the planet! Looks like you had a marvelous tome, and learned something beautiful at the same time.

  17. I laughed at the pic of the graffiti near the Seine. Then I cried at your last paragraph. I don’t think I will ever see Paris myself, but knowing the light is there is sure something…

  18. I wish the US would get a grip and be OK with nudity. I’ve never understood the puritanical attitude so many people have about this. My neighbor is like family and I used to have the kids over for movie night with their mothers permission for whatever movie it was. It blew my mind back in the day when she OK’d Terminator but then wouldn’t let them watch a non-violent movie because nipples, oh and bare asses. I Peace and love.

  19. Usually when I’m crying from your blog it’s due to laughter. I’ve been in a weepy mood today but your words were beautiful. Thank you and so glad for you.

  20. Love your writing, your laughter, your eye- new hashtag #all clitoris are beautiful 🙂

  21. Hi Jenny, Just so you know that totes looks like a Sasquatch foot, just sayin’. I’m so glad you had a great time, Haley looks so beautiful.

  22. I’m moved to tears that you saw the light and wrote about it. Also, I would have totally taken the chicken if only just to see the customs workers reactions.

  23. Your ending made me cry–I am so happy you get to see bits of gold in your life now. I hope they are enough to hold the darkness at bay.

  24. I went to a show at the Moulin Rouge with my mother at age 13 and we sat with two strangers and it was certainly an interesting experience. I do not know if I succeeded in not turning beet red but I enjoyed myself.

  25. The band We Banjo 3 has a song on their new album called “Hold Onto Your Soul”. It’s about remembering that there’s always hope (a light in the sky). I can relate to this verse so much:

    “If you’re on the outside and just looking in,
    if you’re awkward and lonely and don’t fit your skin
    the world is unfriendly, your head’s in a spin
    and you’re looking for an out ’cause you can’t find an in
    Hold onto your soul, and don’t let it go.
    I know the pain’s real and I know how it feels…”

    I highly recommend listening to the song (it’s so good):

    Their whole album is kind of centered around mental health. It’s a great album.

  26. I just wanted to say, everything was beautiful! TOTALLY awesome ghost!! and most of all, the Rooster…Knock Knock…that story still keeps me laughing. As a matter of fact, every time I see a Rooster and my husband is with me, he says ” Bock,Bock MF” I keep telling him it’s “knock, Knock” only makes it funnier……You can’t make this shit up! Stay focused, keep healing and stay away from Customs

  27. Oh you lucky ‘gurl’ and your daughter is stunning!! what a great trip, thanks for all the Pics.

  28. I really needed this today, Jenny. One of those days when the light is not visible. Thank you for sharing it.

  29. First omg haileys soooo freakin grown up, I can’t believe it when did that happen. Second your discretion of looking for the light made me tear up. It was beautiful. Third victo is wrong your not a bad mom you a wonderful mom. It’s not like Hailey doesn’t know what boobs look like.

  30. The last image and paragraph brought tears to my eyes. I enjoyed seeing Paris through yours!

  31. For many people nature brings them peace but for me it is a beautiful city surrounded by interesting people I can look at but do not have to talk to. Paris is my most favourite of them all.

  32. Oh, Jenny. The last passage you wrote made me start crying. Thank you for sharing your trip, your pictures, and above all, your thoughts. The light you saw, you shared with all of us. And that is so much more than enough. I love you, Amy

  33. We did the same at the Eiffel Tower. Seemed silly to go up. There was a little park nearby with a sandbox and my daughter played with some little boy who didn’t speak English. Go figure.

  34. I was never that interested in visiting Paris before, but now I want to see that light! BTW, your daughter is gorgeous. Victor needs to purchase a shotgun ASAP. Oh wait, you live in Texas. You probably have the gun situation well in hand.

  35. Your recent blog posts have made me so so so happy, so excited, so relieved, for you and your family… And so hopeful for all the rest of us. I think it’s so amazing that you not only were able to go on this trip, but it doesn’t seem like the trip took everything out of you and pushed you back into the abyss, which is what I’d be terrified of if going on a trip like that.

    I saw most of these pictures on Instagram as you posted them, but I don’t really do Twitter so now I’m sitting here laughing way too much over the Sasquatch button!

  36. NO LIE: my husband was leaving the the catacombs once when the security guard chased down the guy who left right before him. The dude had THREE HUMAN SKULLS in his backpack. So yeah, they’re serious about the “no molesting the corpses” thing.

  37. I’ve read these last vacation blogs and they have been so many wonderful things! I’m happy beyond words for you and this adventure for you and your family. Not to mention that you daughter is so beautiful. 🙂

  38. Fantastic! Your daughter is everything you could want her to be: self aware and confident, let alone beautiful, But more exciting, your expression and relation of an experience that those of us who have been silently following you can all applaud and cheer! Welcome to the world, I hope this is just the beginning, not a one-off. Your voice needs to be heard more and relate more of this type of joy and happiness that we see in this post.

  39. I’m so glad you got to see the light and to eat a street crepe! I’m so happy for you.

  40. That last line struck me square between the eyes, after self harming yesterday for the first time in years and then having a good day today.

  41. When I was in the Paris flea market last November I kept thinking about how you would want to buy all the weird taxidermy! Was the pegasus still there?
    Also what is the fourth thing you can’t do in the catacombs (bottom left on sign)? Wear a tank top? Bullet-proof vest? Breastplate armour?

  42. So glad that you could share the beauty of your trip with us. Here’s wishing you many more days of seeing the light where ever you are.

  43. God, woman, your last few sentences made me cry. Every so often, life gifts you with a moment to cherish, may you have many more like that one.

    Your daughter looks beautiful.

    On a more frivolous note, how very French is it that they feel the need to specify that you can’t take a bottle of wine into the catacombs?

  44. Deborah, that puzzled me for a bit too. No baby slings? No aliens lurking in your torso ready to burst out a la John Hurt in Alien? (Backpacks must be carried seems a disappointingly prosaic explanation).

  45. Apparently, my dogs vagina is ‘unusual ‘ – I’ve only glimpsed her lady garden in passing; when she’s been displaying it which isn’t often as she’s a nicely brought up girl/ it now – and incorporates folds of skin thought to be possessed by desert women to keep the sand out (of their lady gardens- is this true?). So there.

  46. So nice. I have never been until you just showed me and described it here. I took a little trip right here in front of my computer.

  47. The one good thing about going to the top of the Eiffel Tower–I did it during the day and at night–is you get to see the rest of Paris. And it’s just amazing how ginormous that thing is. But you saw the city in your own way on your own terms and that’s all travel should be.
    The funniest thing to me though is I was told again and again how rude Parisians are and yet all the people I met there were so kind and helpful that I suspect the people who told me to expect rudeness are really assholes.

  48. Loved the sign for catacombs and light button sasquatch. European signs have always been unclear to me. I thought that one was no pregnant women . The light I would’ve seen as an alien head. All in the perspective. Keep getting healthy you mean the world to us armchair junkies of your prose.enjoy the last bit of summer

  49. Heh, yep. In Europe we set the age restrictions mostly for violence not for nipples. Cause there’s nothing wrong with nipples but a lot is wrong with killing other people.

  50. I’m crying while I read the end of this post. I’m so happy you’re getting to see the light.

  51. Reading your travel recaps has brought me such joy. I’m so damn happy you were able to take this trip. Hugs to you, Jenny!!

  52. Thank you for sharing! Beautiful pics and great writing. Your daughter is so beautiful and your comment on seeing the person she’s becoming was so touching. My daughter is 14 and I often marvel at the glimpses of adult I see. So nice to relate. Peace

  53. Just this:
    Your daughter is amazingly exquisitely gorgeous.
    (She takes after her mom.)
    My whole day is lifted a bit by this post. Thanks especially for the photo of the golden light. It makes my heart lighter just to see that.

  54. Did Victor bring the train attendant home with him? Seems like that person could be a good ally for him…

  55. Hailey is a drama kid, so she needs to get used to other peoples’ nipples sooner or later.

    Also, you took your kid to Europe. You are a VERY. GOOD. MOM.

  56. My eyes are sweating, I’m not crying. Thank you for this – I sometimes lose the light and am working on embracing the idea of it can be enough. Beautiful stuff!

  57. Your post makes me so happy- I am SO glad you are able to do all these brave things. ps- your daughter is really lovely.

  58. I love the graffiti! I laughed out loud when I saw it. Speak truth to power, Parisians!

  59. Because I love your blog and want to share something back.
    It gives me a special thrill to read about some place I’ve been or go a place I’ve read about so…
    Book rec: Bones of Paris by Laurie R. King.
    Paris in the Jazz Age, Catacombs, creepy art, murder. 3.5 stars on GoodReads. Says 2nd of a series but not written that way. I listened to it but now I want to read it. I miss details when I listen, and the background this mystery is set against is detailed and gorgeous.

  60. Having taken the Chunnel, I can confirm. It really does just feel like a long tunnel (which, technically, it is). It is a little weird when you’re driving onto the train (if you’re taking your car) and then you have to drive off and remember that now you have to drive on the other side of the road (they do remind you of that just before arrival).
    Anyway, it’s been a while since I’ve been to Paris and now I kind of want to visit again.
    I’m glad you all had a good time. 🙂

  61. Although I hope Dorothy is also feeling better in the garden department, this was a fabulous post and I’m so glad you had a great trip. I love all the touristy things you did- they looked fun. Thank you for reminding me the light is still there.

  62. You can see Edison meeting Eiffel at the top of the tower and the scene in the movie Tomorrowland makes a lot more sense. But it seems nobody saw Tomorrowland and it’s probably because they haven’t been to the Eiffel Tower.

  63. I’m not sure if it’s more concerning that you found a taxidermied goblin shark, or that I saw the picture and was like, “Oh, hey, a goblin shark.” But either way, goblin shark! I wish you could’ve gotten it past customs. You could’ve named it Madegobline Kahn.

  64. I’m working my last overnight shift, finally — they always makes me take a plunge into anxiety, depression, etc. so I thank you for making me laugh and making me cry. You are right, the light is always there. Sometimes it comes out of your dog’s vagina.

  65. This was a wonderful post! (But are you SURE there wasn’t just someone standing at the end of the corridor, who just moved out of the way for the next picture?)
    If you’re ever in Illinois, come ghost hunting with me at the Peoria State Hospital!

  66. I love your comment about the Eiffel Tower. That was my exact argument while in NYC and everyone wanted to go to the top of the Empire State Building. What do you think of when you see the NYC skyline? The Empire State Building. Guess what’s not in the photo if you go to the top? So yeah, I get you.

  67. I am so thrilled for you – being in a state of mind to be able to travel (which is my personal passion) and having such a wonderful time. So truly happy for you!

  68. Oh my dear lord…there is so much here I can’t read it all at once. I wanted to give Victor a trophy for the ghost picture but my ebullience was DERAILED by the Truth. picture. PLEASE have that made into posters, please. PLEASE.

  69. This has nothing to do with your current post — I apologize for that but I wanted to tell you you are my hero. I have just recently began reading your books and I could not have found a better “soulmate” (I hate using this word but for the moment it fits). We follow along the lines in similar fashion of how our mental illnesses work or technically how our brains don’t work. We’ve also both been deer suits. Yes, I know — how odd. My Dad was not a taxidermist like yours however he was a hunter as are all the males in the family. When I used to smoke (yes I know — BAD) I was forced to smoke in the garage (even in the bitter cold of the winter moths) because my parents didn’t understand my need to slowly kill myself. One could always tell it was hunting season where I lived because our hometown would grow a thousand times bigger, filling up with assholes and by the dead deer carcasses hanging in our garage. Normally I was informed there was a dead body hanging from the ceiling in the garage so “be careful!” however there were moments when I was not informed…these moments have scarred me for life. I don’t sleep well (never have) so I often wandered around the house at night or read/watched horrifying things that would halt me from sleep. When I smoked I would slip out into our mud room, quickly light up and head into the attached garage. Sometimes I was quick to light up and not using my brain would slip into the garage without turning on the lights. These were the moments when I would find myself trapped inside a deer carcass. One would think I would learn the lesson quickly to turn on the light during the hunting season before lighting up but I have a thick stubborn skull so no, would not learn. The feeling was always terrifying and I felt like I had to fight tooth and nail to escape. It probably would have been as simple as stepping forward but my mind does not work that way. One would also think this would halt my smoking habit but that lasted until I was 35 long after the carcasses stopped appearing in the garage. So my hero — we live similar lives (more than just the deer skin) and it is nice to know — although disappointing — that someone else lives through what I live through and I can now point out — SHIT — she is going through this too. No, I don’t want anyone to go through severe anxiety/panic attacks or clinical depression but the thought that I am not alone and have a fellow survivor (we are indeed survivors) makes me feel a bit better.

  70. We went on our graduation trip to Paris (I am from Germany) and my best friend, who I shared a room with, went to the catacombs, and I didn’t. She came back and had stolen a thigh bone. I had to sleep for three more days in a room with somebody’s thigh bone…

  71. Reading this and laughing and smiling and then I get to the end and YOU MADE ME CRY.
    In Panera. With tears and snot.
    I’m never reading you in public again.

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