The view of the leaves outside of our window – May 5, 2010
Greetings, dear readers of An Alien Parisienne! Sorry it has been a couple of weeks. The good news is I have been out, living life, and as you know my motto is, “Life first, blog later.” I’ve stolen that motto from a long time online friend, Bonii Jo, to give credit where it is due. It’s true, though, that if I am not writing here, it is often because I am “out there,” doing things.
Or, perhaps more truthfully, I am on the internet superhighway reading as if I am in a 1994 Dauer 962 LeMans (allegedly the fastest car in the world). The sheer number of open tabs on Google Chrome turns into a solid bar of color where I cannot even see the icons of what is on each tab anymore. Hunting down a web page becomes a game of guess and click, or maybe hit and run, to keep with my superhighway metaphor. I try to use things like Read It Later to little avail. I like to read anything and everything I can get my eager little fingers and eyes on, and inevitably my brain gets clogged up with all of the mental commentary about said readings and all they inspire, and before you know it, I am blogging here. It’s like a brain detritus bomb most times. A blowout on that superhighway when I actually stop to contemplate in writing what I have in mind.
I was the kid who always had something to read in front of her. I read the cereal boxes at breakfast. I read the billboards on the way to school on the schoolbus. I read everything set before me — I even passed that stupid little “pop quiz” that teachers used to give where it says at the top of the test in the instructions, “Before you do anything on this quiz, read ALL of the questions FIRST, then begin to work.” Then the last question says something like, “Only perform the task in item number one, and ignore the rest of the questions and/or tasks on this quiz.” The task in number one is to write your first and last name at the top of the paper, and that’s it: end of quiz. It was the kind of quiz designed to make most kids feel like idiots, laboring over the questions they didn’t even have to do, if they had read the directions. But of course a good percentage had not followed the directions (kind of the whole point of the quiz — to hit kids over the head with the idea that it is always good to read the directions first) and it quickly became obvious who had and who had not done what they were supposed to. I remember teachers sitting, smugly, at their desks, chuckling silently to themselves over the fact that they duped kids into needless work. I remember the audible groans from the children who realized the error of their ways in not taking care to read the directions first. The whole thing boiled down to rewarding readers and rule-followers such as myself, and shaming the ones who were more renegade in their approach. Still, I am the one who can actually set the timer on the DVD (used to be “the VCR” and I almost typed that — god I am getting old. More on that in a mo’) because I READ THE FREAKIN’ INSTRUCTIONS and therefore know what to do and how to do it.
What I am getting at is that I love to READ and with the interwebz at my disposal, it is like quick and easy crack almost all day long at the crack whore house of endless crack. Until the man of the house gets home and wants his due time on the ‘net, too. He is more of the writer, though. And the organizer of media for his writing. I, on the other hand, cannot seem to stop reading long enough to write, and then when I do: KABOOM.
Here we are for another explosive installment of the life and times of Paris Karin, the Alien Parisienne.
The Past Couple of Weeks
My weeks are pretty typically organized around laundry, washing dishes, cleaning the bathroom, reading people’s blog posts, cooking, shopping, cleaning other parts of the apartment, and then writing about my “life” in Paris (*snicker* I write that somewhat tongue-in-cheek, you know).
Mondays, after Paul’s two teen kids have been with us over the weekend, I start the loads of laundry that have accumulated over the past week. There are usually five small loads and then sheets and towels every other week, or as soon as they are too gross to postpone washing (especially the towels in our too-humid bathroom. Not so much the sheets. It’s not like we’re having orgies in our apartment or anything. Sheesh! Who do you think we are? *tee hee*). Three loads fit on the laundry lines and then there are two loads left for Tuesday, plus the sheets and towels, when it’s necessary.
The above is what the whole set-up looks like in the Girl Child’s bedroom. I also have a drying rack that fits over the top edge of a door, but if there are a lot of socks to be dried — too many to fit on just the door rack — I made up this contraption, which is the Girl Child’s old chalkboard/easel and some scrap wood from some home bricolage (DIY) project:
Groovy, huh. I McGyver like a pro. The ends of the wood scraps extend over the edge of the half-bunk bed I have written about in a blog around here somewhere before (I think it was this one) and then balance on the top of the easel, which is almost exactly the same height as the edge of the bed. I’m pretty ingenious, huh (whoops! Almost chose “ingenuous” there in spellcheck. Well, yeah, maybe some of that, too, sometimes).
I’ve written about laundry before. I think the reason that it is such a compelling blog topic for me is that it is so much a part of my life from Monday to Wednesday or Thursday, depending on the amount to be washed. It’s not as speedy as in the States where huge washing machines and dryers seem to make it something that you can practically wiggle your nose at and it is done. There are a couple of more steps here which make it something that dominates more of my time.
Okay, so you get the idea that I do a lot of laundry and cleaning.
When I have other things to do, it is therefore quite exciting.
On Thursday, May 6th, for example, my blog buddy Karen and I met up outside of yoga class (which, by the way, we go to at Ashtanga Yoga Paris on Tuesday evenings, Beginners 2 Class. Check out the site, which I linked. You can watch a video of my yoga instructor, Gerald, here. He is very bendy. And strong). We hung out around the Place d’Italie and the Rue de la Butte aux Cailles, Street of the Hill of Quails. Or Hill Street Quails (lol). Or something like that.
We found a café/restaurant and sat and talked over drinks. I had a white wine with chestnut liqueur in it. It was interesting – not bad, not the best I’ve had, either. It had a strange name I wish I had written down. We had taken a walk around the Butte aux Cailles neighborhood before sitting down for a drink. I took these photos as we walked around the neighborhood:
The plazas in and around the Place d’Italie were adorned with the most beautiful, fairy-land-looking flowering trees in full bloom. There is a better view of the above photo here: View On Black. You can get an even better idea of how pretty the trees were in the photo below. I wish I had a wide-angle lens to capture just how far the trees went — how many of them there really were. But for these photos, you’ll have to take my word on how expansive and how lovely it was. It was magical.
This next photo was Karen’s idea! Isn’t that so clever? I wanted to take a photo of the wall art, and of her, and then she got down on the ground and did this. I like Karen. 🙂 She thinks in wonderful ways.
The Buttes aux Cailles neighborhood was full of street art. Not graffiti-style like I have written about before on the Rue Dénoyez but real paintings on neighborhood walls like this one:
There are more in my Flickr Set “May 2010.”
We saw a lot of interesting things besides art on the sides of buildings. One of the prettiest scenes was this peek into the yard of a home (yes, there are houses in this Parisian neighborhood, not just apartments) with a beautiful flowering tree (Karen told me which kind as her parents have one in their yard, but I have forgotten what it was) and a kitty cat who was sitting in the doorway.
If you are looking for an off-the-beaten path place to visit, check out the Butte aux Cailles neighborhood. I had been there one other time as well, which I wrote about in an early blog post. It is a very lovely place to spend a sunny afternoon or warm evening.
The day before, Wednesday, May 5, I had a meeting with a young woman named Amber. She has started a blog of her own here at Amber’s European Adventure. Rather than repeat the entire story here, you should head over to her post entitled, “Friends Old and New” to get the skinny on how I met Amber and what we did together.
I will post this photo of some flowers in the Parc des Buttes Chaumont through which we walked to get to her place near the Buttes Chaumont Métro. If you visit Amber’s blog, you can see a photo of me taking this photo! How’s that for meta-blogging? (Aside: oh myyyy gaaawwwwd. Do I do THIS or what? Yikes. I also note that post is from 2003. So, maybe introverted metablogging in this day and age is actually kind of retro-chic. I’m thinking that’s probably just wishful thinking, isn’t it…)
Then, this past Friday the 14th, I had a chance to re-visit the Bois de Boulogne.
It was the day after the holiday of Ascension (which one of my favorite bloggers, MJ, says is “another holiday here [in France], something about Jesus going up to heaven” in her hilarious blog post here). It was therefore a day when a lot of schools and businesses were closed to “faire le pont,”or turn the Thursday holiday into a four-day weekend by “making the bridge.” Amber’s language school, l’Atelier9, was closed as well, so I met up with Amber and some of her classmates from the school for a walk and a picnic in the B de B, as I like to call it. Or the “Bwah duh Baloney,” using an extra-strong Amuuurican accent.
From left to right we have Anita, Amber, Erica, and Allison. Anita is Colombian, via Australia. Amber is from California, but with Colorado connections, Erica is from Finland, and Allison from Seattle and more recently Portland. We were a diverse bunch of women with varied ages and situations in life, but have one thing in common: we are all foreigners staying in Paris for the reason that Paris called us to her. We followed that call, and are all working at getting along with her. The other thing that we had in common (besides very good English — I have to say to the credit of Anita and Erica both, whose native languages are [respectively] Spanish and Finnish/Swedish) was that we are all clearly women of adventure. All of us gave up the security of the known for the unknown. It was wonderful to gather together with women such as these to walk and talk about our experiences thus far in the City of Love and Light.
I only wish the weather had cooperated as much as we did with the good conversation and delicious pot-luck picnic which we shared. It was a cool, cloudy and drizzly day. The forecast had called for partly-cloudy skies and temps in the high 50s-low 60s (Fahrenheit) but it felt really chilly. I was glad I wore my winter coat and brought gloves. Brrrr. Things are supposed to warm up even more in coming days and I cannot wait.
If you would like to see more of the photos I took of our walk, you can see the set here at Flickr.
It ain’t over until the fat lady sings and we’re about halfway in. Take your pee break or fill up your glass with beverage of your choice, but I am just getting going, so hang on. Or, come back tomorrow. This post will still be here! 🙂
Another informational aside for those of you who take issue with the size of my posts, which, granted, are about twice the size of some of the longer posts by, say, expert bloggers like my beloved David Lebowitz, Prom King at Paris Blog High School. According to a Google Search with the key search string “word count of an average chapter in a novel,” I discovered information here, and here, and here which shows that the average chapter of a book is about 14 pages long, and an average page word count is about 250-300 words. That’s 3500-4500 words for one measly chapter of a book. Most of my posts hover at the 3000 word mark, which is less than an average book chapter.
C’mon blog readers: you read BOOKS, right? This is just one chapter in my silly little life. I think you can hack it, you reader people you. I have a feeling that those of you who visit my blog and actually read without freaking out at the length probably had the backs of cereal boxes facing you while you ate your breakfast, too, eh? Yeah, I know you. 😉
So, to continue the story of my life in the past couple of weeks, last Saturday, May 15, was the Night at the Museum. Noooo, this is not a cute and silly movie starring Ben Stiller where the museum displays come to life (although I have totally imagined that happening in the Louvre with the hall of Greek and Roman statues, haven’t you?). This is the night where museums open their doors during the nighttime and allow visitors in the doors for FREE. You read it: free. As in, gratis. Gratuit, in French.
This is PJ and me on our way to the Musée de l’Orangerie where the famous wall panels by Monet called Les Nymphéas are housed. We left the house at about 10 pm. The museum was going to be open until 1 am.
Photo taken by Paul’s eldest son.
The museum, which was closed from 1999 to 2006 for extensive renovations, has re-opened with a very-well conceived design in displaying the Monet wall panels. You can take a virtual visit here at the museum website.
Here’s a little of what it was like that night, though:
… a little crowded…
But everyone seemed to really enjoy seeing the art late at night like this. It had the air of being at a special party, like we were exclusive, invited guests. Okay, until the staff working that night kept hollering (oh the irony) for people to be quiet in these gallery rooms. It was because there was special music to go with the paintings, and loud-talking people really did ruin the effect. Once the staff spoke up, though, people listened like good little schoolchildren, and quieted down.
Doesn’t the boy in the above photo look as if he belongs in a painting by Renoir? I like how his face is the only one looking at the camera, too.
I found a new friend on Flickr, a professional photographer here in Paris, who just today “favorited” this photo of mine, which I took that night:
It’s very flattering when a pro-photographer favorites a photo. (That’s a Picasso painting pictured there, too, by the way.) Okay, so he also has 5,321 favorites marked in Flickr, haha. Eh, I am still glad to be one, though, and I am glad he chose this one. I was really happy to have gotten the shot, as I was of this one, too:
I like how I captured the woman at a nice angle compared to the tree in the Monet panel. Photographing people in museums is really fun — I like to observe people in museums and capture them in relation to the works of art to create a new work of art. Meta-art. I am in love with meta-ness in this post, haha!
The nighttime lights were really pretty at the Place de la Concorde, just next to the museum, which is inside the Jardin des Tuileries.
I am about to conclude. Just so you know. You’re almost done.
I would love to put several more things in this post in regards to things I have read and done in the past couple of weeks. But I am almost to that 3000 word mark, and I have a conscience. I don’t want to make your heads explode.
I wanted to finish this post with the information that today is my 42nd birthday. Yes, I am officially the Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything. I don’t feel like it, though. I kind of just feel old.
I am excited, though, because the aforementioned David Lebovitz is doing a reading and book signing at WH Smith in Paris tonight for his latest cookbook Ready for Dessert, a re-write and compilation of two earlier cookbooks which are now out-of-print. The new book is a collection of his dearest and best recipes. I don’t think I can afford to buy the new one right now. We’re a bit skint these days. But I am bringing my copy of The Sweet Life in Paris for him to sign. I am a little nervous. I have a pretty big crush on him (check out this post of his with a video for the new book where he makes chocolate chip cookies to see why I am so crushed out. He is adorable in it). I’m nervous about the evening, a little. You know how it is easy to put people we adore on a pedestal, and while I know he is just a guy, he really is a lot of what I aspire to be: a writer, a fun person, a good cook, an adept foreigner living in Paris. I just want him to be as cool in real life as he is in my head. If he is not, it’s okay. Maybe it will be like how Pretty in Pink would have gone if Andie had hooked up with Duckie instead — the real-life version where Blane disillusions her and dumps her in the end and she goes to prom with Duckie and stays with Duckie. As it is, though, I still kind of want there to be the pretty ending where David/Blane is nice to me, and maybe even says something, once I introduce myself, about how I recommended the Presto Salad Shooter to him in a comment on his post about celeriac rémoulade and then he listed it on his Amazon “Stuff I’m Liking” list.
The only thing I take issue with is his additional comment about “several” readers recommending this. It was not “several,” it was ME. *giggle*
I sound a little stalker-ish, don’t I. Ugh.
I actually have to go ahead and post this if I am going to make it down to the book store for the signing. Gotta get ready and get down there to meet my friend Karen, and hopefully connect with the bloggers from Paris (Im)perfect and Res I(p)sa.
Thank you all for reading. Hope you are having a good week so far, and until next time, it’s hasta la pasta, baby.
Over and Out.
(an alien parisienne)