All posts by Matt Carlson

About Matt Carlson

Singer, writer, English teacher (as a 2nd language) & tennis coach all rolled up into one...


We spend our lives asking questions, like: Who am I? Why do I exist? What am I doing? How do I define myself?

And many times the answers change throughout our lifetimes, depending on where we are, what we are doing, who we are sharing our lives with and so on. Also, too often,  we are defined by things that happen to us, things that maybe we didn’t choose. For example, one day I get robbed on a city street somewhere and the experience is so traumatic that not only was I a victim that day on that street, but I continue to live in the memory of it, the fear, the pain, the anger…. And the following days of my life are somehow colored by this experience. Maybe I lose trust in my fellow human beings or because I was robbed by a man, or by a race that is not my own, I become leery of men or that race of people. This happened to an old neighbor of mine years ago, she had been attacked in Marseille by a group of young Arab boys and after that she could talk of nothing else. And to make things worse for her, she began blaming the entire Arabic race if human beings for her tragic experience. My response to her was  though empathetic – immediate. I told her, “You cannot blame all Arab people for this unfortunate incident…” Needless to say, she became angry with me and I never heard from her again.

Trauma is a terribly thing and I am not saying otherwise. I too have had terrible life experiences thrown at me or maybe I chose some of them, but I ask today, do those things define me? I remember when I was 13, I was physically abused by an alcoholic Dad who had little restraint under the influence of the bottle. An over 2 mile bike ride (without lights) in the black of night on a mountain road, my jumping out of a 2 story window to escape after the attack, the running to the security agent who called my step Mother who drove up to the mountains where I was to take me home, and the body bruises that I incurred were all great aspects of my story while recovering from it. My Mother, though divorced was still co-dependent on her ex-husband and would not call the police. I was angry but had no recourse. On his rare visits, I would not speak to my Father for 2 years after that, only “F^$k you,” as I walked away from him. And no, he was not apologizing… Yet after those two years, I went to him and suggested we try and be like a real Father and son. And of course, things got better for some time – my all too brutal letter written 2 years earlier had been kept, according to my Dad and in his desk drawer. When he began the long road to recovery with Alcoholics Anonymous, he told me that my letter gave him strength in order NOT to start drinking again.

That story did define me for some time. I needed to talk about it a lot but the family was complicit in what had happened and no one wanted to ask or talk about it. Fortunately, (at least for the following reason) my Mother had moved us to a new apartment complex, and there were many friends to be made there and a few of them were good listeners. Beverly who was a young professional woman with a good heart listened to my story and it did good to have that. I was able to move on.

So for a time, that painful life experience did define me and in many ways. In the beginning a victim, hurt, angry, frustrated, no family support – but to be fair, they were all complicit in something they did not understand. Being part of a dysfunctional system or family unit does not just fix itself! It hardly understands its broken. So the denial or lack of knowledge continues and things are build upon it year after year, day in and day out. One of the surprising good things that came of this experience was that I was longer afraid of anybody at school or elsewhere. I mean after someone that is 6 feet five inches and over 200 pounds beats the crap out of  you – and that you were amazing in your physical and mental defense, well, I can only say that no one at school messed with me after that. (Older brothers aside, of course.)

So, what I am trying to convey is that you can be or become someone different that what people tell you that you are. Everyone is unique, and yes we are the total sum of everything we have ever experienced, but you do not have to define yourself through just one experience or even a few experiences. You are (and we are) so many different things, our emotions, our biology, our desires, our intentions, the way we spent our time – there is so much to take into account for self defining.

And remember that someone else’s value system may not be your own. You can choose your own value system, what you think is important, don’t let other people decide for you. You can also be in the process of defining those things – don’t be in a hurry to have all the answers…It’s a process.

And today, I’m going to be patient with myself and kind! I tend to define myself how I spend my time – today its blogger and dog sitter.

Have a nice day, reader. ;-))







The In-Between Spaces by Matt Carlson

Was it just a thought? A sound? Was your voice somehow reaching out to me? An image and then images…I didn’t know, and I didn’t really want to consider anything. I was tired. Tired of waking up every morning with puzzle pieces of my past life showering down upon me. Whether it was real or not, I felt like my brain was a magnet of everything and or anything that just showed up at my brain’s door steps.

And then somehow the day got going and I did what I needed to do. Work was done on automatic – but I was efficient; then grocery shopping, daily errands, took the dogs out on their walks…One activity after another, but I didn’t feel like me while doing it. Who was running the show? Was it me? My DNA? Was it society: of which I was a never ending cog in the wheel of something much bigger than myself? I didn’t know. I only knew that I needed some piece of mind, some feeling that I was actually determining something in my existence. Not just being pushed along  the unending chain of: school, work, love, marry, kids, retirement…then the ‘D’ word.

Part of the problem was that life seemed to happen and I’d jumped on the bandwagon without much consideration. Kind of like you’re waiting for the bus on a street corner in a no where city and a bus does come along. You’re not sure if you should take it, but the driver tells you (and the other passengers nod their affirming heads) that the next bus will be several hours from now. Well, of course you get on the bus, right? I mean, who wants to sit around for hours waiting for another bus?…

“What’s that? This bus is going where?”…”To No Where City? And the next bus?….To Create your life Zone and Maybe Be Happy Too?” Hell, I should have waited for that next bus…..

Now what? Well, those images, those sounds, those puzzle pieces I mentioned earlier, were maybe important ones. Maybe my brain was trying to tell me something. Maybe, I needed to listen to my own mind instead of being that ‘cog in a wheel’. Maybe, I could try to hear what my inner self was trying to tell me. Perhaps I had a message to myself that was more important than the constant barrage of messages coming from my computer. The first step? Turn off the phone! Turn off the computer! Meditate…. Breath… Oh yea, I was always forgetting to do that too. Breath…Yea, it was March, it felt like just ‘Another Summer Day’…

Mental Meanderings

Mental Meanderings

By Matt Carlson

He said, “I’m leaving.” Then he added, “I’m going to stay at my Mom’s.” Then he was gone and there we were, the dogs and I, alone. It was a horrible moment. There had been no real discussion. The phantom that had been my boyfriend for ten years left as if he had never been there. Well, he hadn’t really. I continued to pay for the house credit and other bills alone. I’d lived with someone who had always hated himself, always looking for a sexual liaison with a stranger. Someone who hid inside his computer, then within the virtuality of his telephone. They were safe places, his smart phone and computer, he didn’t have to respond honestly to any questions there. He could easily play with the anonymity of it all. I imagined him locked up in a small room asleep with only cables connected to his brain and a computer while an animated character lived his life somewhere; his real body safely locked away.

In December of 2013, he had simply said to me while sitting outside in the garden, in the sun, a cigarette in hand, “I think we should break up. There’s nothing left between us.” It was the first time that it was he who had brought up the subject; I was usually the one that said it. The way he said it was as if he were waiting for a particular response. I didn’t give it to him. On the contrary, I agreed that it was a good idea to separate. But adding, “I don’t think that there’s nothing left between us – I think we are still friends.” He didn’t answer.

There, I was wrong…It takes two to be friends.

The slippery slope that we’d now ventured upon wasn’t immediately visible. I’d somehow forgotten or put aside the fact that I was dealing with someone who suffered from Borderline Personality Disorder; an alcoholic too. Why is it that when we break up with someone, we imagine that they are going to have the same perception of things – or even be reasonable  –  and are shocked by the reaction we have in front of us?  My ex cried that night out on the terrace, sobbing while holding onto his wine bottle and glass. I went to him, to comfort him. It didn’t last long, me holding him in my arms telling him it would be al-right. He didn’t want me to, I hadn’t said what he’d wanted to hear. So, I left him there as his tears subsided in the black of the night, his anger surfacing, on our unfinished terrace. He had wanted me to plead for us, for another chance, to say ‘let’s stay together’ but I didn’t feel that. The on going pain of dealing with this hurt, broken and angry individual had just gone over the top. I had no more desire, no more strength to try and convince him that life could be beautiful – that we could be. Especially to someone who only knew beauty as a concept, as a visual design on a computer screen  –  his true profession in fact  –  a graphic artist – well, it all made more sense now.

Our unfinished ruin of a house sat there. The hours upon hours of my own labor upon it, for it, for us,  would be the weapon used against me to make me suffer. My name wasn’t on the title and all of the promises of protecting me had gone out the window. My ex would try and take everything away, an attempt to erase my very presence from it  –  from our mutual project. Even his Mother would add fuel to the fire by attempting with her son to keep our dogs away from me. A five month ‘kidnapping’ of sorts would end up with my going and getting them at the Mother-in-laws house in the country. She attacked me, but ended up falling on the ground as I avoided her with the dogs in my arms, my ex running after me like a maniac suddenly (though he was supposedly unable to walk at this time due to a back problem)…His attack of feet and fist marks left on the side of our mutual car Peugeot – just before I could drive safely away…

Later on I had to respond to incredible lies of breaking and entering, theft of money and of my own dogs and that I had physically attacked and beaten my Mother-in-law!  It all seemed surreal – but the hate was only beginning. My ex would continue to lie and paint a new picture far from the reality of what was.  I suppose that I shouldn’t have been surprised by the letter from a shady lawyer hired from my ex describing me basically as a monster, turning the truth into a mockery of justice, or the… and the… etc, etc…


Today, I am moving on and recreating a new life. I am still unsure as to whether I want to battle again for at least a return on my investment of my home for over nine years; the fact that I paid for half of his house credit too over that period – a few months paying for it alone as well. I’m feeling like it would take a lot of energy away from me, from moving into a positive direction. Maybe not…  Maybe I need to finish the battle in order to move on… It’s either that or accept things as the way they are and put that aside. What is the most important thing here? To move on? To look back? To move on but to at least respond to what was? To get at least a part of my investment back?


I’m still questioning that – if only a little bit.

Some Helpful Thoughts In Life Management by Matt Carlson

Some things that are helpful to remember in life:
1. Have a sincere intention when you do something and be clear about what that is to others.
2. Don’t play into others’ unhealthy game playing, lying or manipulation. Tell that or those people “no” and go on with your life.
3. Don’t judge, but learn to observe things. When you judge something, it cannot become something else, only what you’ve judged it to be.
4. Communicate as best you can & as often as you can. Communication is a bringing together of ideas so that everyone is on board with all of the same elements. If you do not do this, then you are not communicating, only occasionally giving out bits and pieces of a thing.
5. Give of yourself to others. Giving is generosity of oneself. Everyone has unique gifts to give to others. Give freely and often without second thoughts. Without wanting something in return.
6. Take time every day and as often as you can to just be in the moment, to be with who ever you are with or whatever you are doing. Don’t get so caught up in your daily lives, that you forget what is essential: this moment. The past and future do not exist ; the past and future only exist in your mind

A Bike Ride In Paris by Matt Carlson

A Bike Ride in Paris by Matt Carlson

It was just another blustery day in Paris. Foebbe, Fender and I riding along with their brand new pet trailer and my old bike out once again braving the city streets in search of adventure. The pet trailer is a great idea, now we are able to go everywhere in this incredible but dangerous city (way too many cars, bikes, rollars, skate boards and solo wheels/airwheels to compete with see:


Anyhow, there we were in Tino Rossi Park  ( alongside the Seine River enjoying a run. Yea, once we get to the park, it’s free running time for these little guys (Jack Russels) and it’s not too far from the castle (really a hotel/ex-tanning center ; no not for sun tans, the other kind…where we currently live :…

Anyway, an old guy (early sixties) on a bike shows up with his two dogs, one is a Jack Russels Parsons and the other a Cocker Spaniel. And he starts saying, “Oh, that’s a good idea. I gotta get one of those.” Meaning the pet trailer. ( And so we start chatting; me being the eternal sharer of the ‘how much’ and ‘where to find them’ and ‘oh it’s so practical in the city’ etc… Common chat in Paris, nothing earth shattering. Then, we start talking about our dogs: male, female blah, blah, blah. Typcial dog owner stuff. This guy seems so normal, what with his little round specs on his nose, his comfortable intellectual clothes, his penny loafers and his apparently well cared for dogs while sitting on a stopped bike.

Then he says, “Yea the female had puppies already, twice. I killed them. The male was a Border Collie and…..blah, blah, blah…” And suddenly i can’t hear anything else he is saying. I’m asking myself, “Did he just say what I thought he said?”

“Did you say ‘you killed them?” I ask looking him directly in the eyes.

“Oh yea, well I didn’t kill them myself of course, had someone else do it for me.” So basically a murderer that hires out his dirty work, I’m now thinking.

“Really?” I ask him. “Why did you do that?”

Without batting an eye, he answers, “Well, it’s not you can sell them or anything; even the SPCA wouldn’t have taken them. It’s no big deal,” he says. “You can just bury them in the dirt. They can’t feel anything; their eyes aren’t even open…It’s like abortion. The same thing.”

I am flabbergasted to say the least. I’ve met a fucking NAZI GUY in the middle of Paris talking about killing little new born puppies as if he was talking about flushing a toilet with his excrement. Then saying abortion was the same thing.

“You and I have very different values,” I say to him. “I think that’s a horrible thing to do, to kill puppies or anything for that matter. Either you respect life, or you do not.”

“It’s the way it’s done in the country. It’s always been done that way; Nobody in the countryside sterilizes their animals, they just kill the babies. No big deal; Bury them or drown ’em. That’s how things are done.”


“Well, I know how things are sometimes done , but that doesn’t make it right. Animals are not products; they are conscious beings that deserve our utmost respect.”

Unhappy with my reaction, the guy rides off. I’m thinking that’s the thinking of someone who is going to justify his creepy actions by saying “It’s done that way in the country” “Besides, no one would take them” and “They don’t feel anything – it’s like abortion…”




Monsters In My Head by Matt Carlson

Monsters In My Head by Matt Carlson

An unusual week. A dear friend of mine has lost her mom. In a matter of days several things happened: unanswered telephone calls, a frantic breaking in of said mom’s house, police and the observation that she was brain dead, followed by agonizing days at the hospital with tubes and such, the ensuing inner battles of letting her go (was their anyone home? the guilt…), then her passing, followed by a phone call because she was an organ donor… and finally the cremation arrangements….OMG, right? Is anyone capable of wrapping their brains around that? Especially when it’s your Mom? Needless to say, my friend is just trying to cope with basic functioning while the waves of grief wash and buckle…

Me, the house guest trying to be discreet and helpful in any way and suddenly having a time frame of returning home to France. The long sought after job at my fingertips, but finally crashing out of reach. They’d decided after all of this time, to ‘go into another direction’. What the f#@$ck ? I mean, who does two hour interviews and an 8 hour practical on a tennis court, where ALL the clients are satisfied and then the deciders decide to go into another direction?! And of course, they have no negative feedback? Cowards? Liars? WTF?…

So now the travel agency NOUVELLE FRONTIERE has made a mistake on my return ticket costing me a thousand bucks! That being the price I must pay to get my dogs back home safely with me, thanks to using American Airlines and NOT Lufthansa. And modifiable ticket apparently means (just a little bit modifiable like a date change – but not airline carrier or destination!) They did not tell me that!!!!!!!!!! And of course to get all that bad news you have to spend a day on the telephone on those companies ‘drive you fu#@cking nuts’ automatic answering machines until you finally get a human who answers and : 1. either hangs up on you or 2. sends you to yet another automatic phone voice or 3. sends you to the correct place after a nice long wait, but to someone who only gives you the bad news about that thousand dollars. And of course its a scam, but we are all at their merci unless you have your own plane, right? Well, mine’s in the garage so…..

And of course, I’ve accepted to take on another job back home, so people are counting on me over there, but I’m not sure I/we can even get there…And on top of it, my friend here will be yet sad again if and when I leave – am I leaving?! Or will I leave and come back?

The monsters in my head haven’t decided.