The Tour Eiffel – June 7, 2010
With the best of intentions, I hoped to post this at the beginning of last week, but it turns out that it is happening now, just as we are about a week and a half from the end of June. On the good side of that, I have been busy this past week, and have even more about which to write, and that means this blog is working to the ends for which I started it: to find a deeper, broader life for myself here in Paris. What it also means is that I have less and less time to write and post. Thus is the never-ending blogger’s dilemma: when you have time to write, there is not much to write about, but when you have a lot about which to write, there is less time to do so. It’s a pickle, ain’t it. 🙂
At any rate, without further ado, here is Part Two of The End of May.
I realized, of course, as I was writing this post that it should really be called The Beginning of June (and is now, with situational irony, being posted at the end of June). Ah well, May ended on a Monday and then the rest of the week was June. It all blends and blurs, doesn’t it. To catch you up, if you don’t have time to read the previous post, I wrote about the various adventures I’d had with some of my friends here in Paris. I wrote about my friends with much gratitude. I am sincerely grateful for the friends I have made here so far. I realized as I was writing about the things I had done in those final days of May (and the beginning of June, too) that friendship has really been the best thing about living in a city like Paris. I realize this is pretty much true of all cities and places where we live and breathe and have our being. It is often (and so it should be) the people who are with us and share our lives that have more meaning than any famous museum, pastry, or monument.
Did any of you ever see the movie or read the book Into the Wild? I saw and loved the movie. I remember the ending of the film, for which I will just give the barest details here in case you have not seen it and don’t want the ending spoiled. The protagonist, “Alexander Supertramp” aka Christopher McCandless, writes in a journal of sorts (in the margins of Dr. Zhivago, a little research turns out), “Happiness only real when shared.”
Photo found at mykdh’s tmblr page: Things I Love – January 15, 2010
It is the grand lesson he learns in the story — the moral, if you will. I find that in my life this is absolutely true. I think one of the reasons I had so much trouble the first year I lived here in Paris was that I really did not have many people with whom I could experience Paris. It’s really not as much fun for me to visit museums and cafés and monuments by myself. It’s just a lot more fun when you have someone to hold your hand, really or metaphorically, while you see and do things. Sure, I have had to “man up” and find my own Paris cojones and get out there to see and do things on my own. I just like it a lot better when there is someone else to do things with.
While writing the above and thinking about how much time I have been here, I thought I would let people know I passed the second year mark of living here in Paris on June 4, 2010. If you are new here and want to know how it is that I arrived in Paris, you can check the story out here: Paris: A love story. Now that I am beginning a third year here, I wonder what changes and adventures are going to meet me in the coming year. It’s been a trip. A long, strange one. But a good one, too. Happy Anniversary to me and Paul and Paris. I hope for many more good years together.
Melanie, Blogger from the UK — Sunday, June 6
To continue where I left off last week, I was writing about the various things I had seen and done with my friends. Most of those friends I have done some things with before, but this part of the post is about a new friend.
Back when I was writing all about my trip with Tess to Versailles last December, I ran into a wonderful blog dedicated to Marie Antoinette and other royals from the 18th century. The blog is called Kill Them All, God Will Know His Own and is at madameguillotine.org.uk. Melanie is the author of this incredible blog. She and her family came to visit Paris during the first week of June, and they made time to get together with Paul and me on Sunday, June 6.
Melanie, her husband Dave, and little sons Felix and Oscar (named after Oscar Wilde — isn’t that wonderful?) had an indoor picnic with Paul, his two kids, and me and then we went walking around the Parc des Buttes Chaumont. I love to show people “my park.” In fact, we had planned to have a picnic in the park, but a thunderstorm that morning saturated everything with a drenching rain, so I invited them up to our apartment where we snacked on picnic-y foods around our dining room table. We then went around all of the popular things to see in the park, wore out little Oscar (he’s the one sleeping in the stroller in the photo), and then parted ways so that Melanie and her family could go check out the final resting place of Marie Antoinette and Louis XVII at the Basilica of Saint Denis.
More of the photos are here at this set of mine in Flickr, and Melanie’s post about her visit is here. She also has posts of the other days she spent in Paris, too, so check those out for some vicarious travel and beautiful photos of Paris.
If you enjoy French history, want to know more about French history, or more about Marie Antoinette, you must visit Melanie’s site. It is amazing. She has also written and self-published a piece of historical fiction entitled The Secret Diary of a Princess. It is a fictionalized account of Marie Antoinette’s late childhood and early adolescence when she was being prepared to become the Dauphine, the wife of the Dauphin, or Prince Louis XVII of France. To order a softcover copy or a downloaded version of the book, visit Melanie’s Lulu site here. I bought a copy from Melanie while she was here and I am looking forward to reading it. I have peeked inside the book and it looks really good. After just having finished the Antonia Fraser biography of Marie Antoinette, I am eager to see how Melanie incorporated events into the fictional diary.
Speaking of the Parc des Buttes Chaumont, I read a really good post on the park at the Hôtels Paris Rive Gauche English language newsblog here: Parc des Buttes Chaumont. There are some fantastic photos of the park, as well as information about things to see in the park. Check it out. Also, if you want and need more information about events and places to see and do things in Paris, the newsblog is one of the very best. I regularly read the HPRG site to find out what is going on in and around the city. Put it in your blog-read lineup — you won’t be disappointed.
Tess — Monday, June 7
Two weeks ago, the lovely Tess, one of my first friends here in Paris, and I decided to go and have a picnic on the Champs de Mars. It was a lovely day, sunny and fairly warm, which has been unusual so far this spring, and as we move into summer. It seems that since April we have been having one sunny and warm day to three or four of cool cloudiness and rain. I have been wondering if this summer will ever truly get going and stay warm and sunny. I’m ready for it.
A couple of notes on the photo collage: the center photo in the right column is the Trocadéro Esplanade. It usually looks something like this:
These two photos were taken a year ago when my oldest son visited me.
What it looked like on Monday, June 7 was this:
Crazy how they can cover all the fountains and water up, huh!
This is a set up by FIFA to televise the games to the public. Adam at Invisible Paris has written more about the free televised games here at his comprehensive World Cup Post. I think it would be good fun to see a game there. I read in the paper that for France’s first game against Uruguay on June 11, about 5,000 people showed up to watch. Looks like at this point in the competition, France will not advance to the second round. Too bad. The US has one more game: they play Algeria on the 23rd of June. Then we’ll know which eight teams move on to the second round before the quarterfinals. I’m not sure who I am going to root for after that point. I guess we’ll see who makes it.
My only complaint about the day with Tess was that the tchotchke-sellers and Romani beggers were out in force, worse than I remember from the previous year, when I was on a picnic with my son on the Champs de Mars. It got pretty annoying. It was still special to have a little picnic with Tess underneath the tower, though. More photos are here.
Allison – Tuesday, June 8
Allison is one of the women with whom I had a picnic in the Bois de Boulonge a few weeks ago. She got in touch with me and asked if I would like to go out and about with her. I took her around the Parc des Buttes Chaumont, up to the Parc de Belleville, and then down to Place Fréhel and the rue Dénoyez, which is a journey I have blogged about before, most recently when Paul’s mom was here in April. We had an excellent time walking around together. Allison is a really intelligent and interesting person, and I really enjoyed talking with her while we explored.
It was about six weeks before this visit that I was last at the rue Dénoyez. Already the walls had changed, yet again.
Do you remember the Atomic Mouse with the Asplody Head?
This is what is there, now:
It’s a constantly-changing canvas.
I finally figured something out, too. This whole area is very close to where I used to go to yoga.
Ashtanga Yoga Paris
I adore Ashtanga Yoga Paris. Tucked into the upper NE portion of the 11th arrondissement, where the 10th and 20th meet up, Ashtanga Yoga Paris (AYP) has been a haven for me.
Here is AYP’s location (2) in relation to the rue Dénoyez/rue de Belleville area (1):
When I realized that the Métro Couronnes was just a short walk down from Métro Belleville on the Boulevard de la Villette, I asked Allison if she wanted to see where the studio is located. She was up for it, and when we got there I was surprised to see the entrances to the building were all open, so we went inside I got to take some photos of the beautiful, Japanese-garden-inspired courtyard. There are two small studios for practice, one on the second level above the ground floor, which is also the home of Gerald Disse and Linda Munro, a husband and wife team who are owners and chief instructors at AYP. The second, larger studio for practice is located on the ground level.
I have been a little sad of late as Paul and I have taken an intense look at our money situation, and have decided some serious “retrenching” is in order, just like it was for the Elliot family in Jane Austen’s Persuasion. What this has meant is giving up my weekly yoga sessions. A book of 5 classes is 55€, which breaks down to 11€ per class, which is actually incredibly inexpensive for yoga in Paris. However, this is 50 more euro a month than we can spend on such things right now. There is a community class taught by teacher trainees that is only 5€ per class, but I will be honest: it is at 12:30 pm on Sunday afternoon and I like to be lazy on Sunday mornings/afternoons. I realize that this community class is not a bad compromise if I am missing yoga too much, and it is a good price for a little yoga assistance. Then there are the free videos that Gerald and Linda have posted on their site with Sun Salutations A and B, as well as other videos for yoga routines. FREE, and viewable on the computer, so I could keep up the practice at home. Have I done it yet? Nope. But this is one of the reasons I started with the Monday evening beginners class over a year ago: I liked the time of day for the class and the group energy I felt when I went. I was motivated for an evening class with several people in it. The class got me out of our apartment. I liked hearing Gerald use French for the lessons. I really got to know and learn words for things like “left,” “right,” and “bring your head to your knees.” Very handy, the first two words! Not so much the “bringing my head to my knees” expression, but you never know. Might come in handy someday. Heh! 😀
I know. Retrenching means compromise and creativity, and I am whinging here. I could buck up and either get my ass in gear and do yoga at home, or I could squeak five euros and a couple of Métro tickets out of the grocery budget to join the yogis and yoginis on a Sunday early afternoon. But I had grown accustomed to my routine, I enjoyed it, and it made me feel good. It’s not easy to give it up right now. So I felt like moping a little here on the blog.
Here’s to brighter days and financial improvements so that weekly yoga at Ashtanga Paris Yoga will be possible once again. In the meantime, if you are reading this, like yoga, live in Paris, and want a really nice bilingual yoga community to join, please get in touch with Ashtanga Yoga Paris. I know they would appreciate your participating in the life-changing practice of yoga with them.
Visiting Elizabeth Bard: Finding Inspiration — Wednesday, June 9
Almost two weeks ago now, I had the privilege of spending an afternoon with Elizabeth Bard, author of the book Lunch in Paris and writer at Elizabeth Bard. Elizabeth posted about our meeting here on her post Tea & Sympathy (June 10, 2010).
We shared some muffins I’d made and took with me to her home, and Elizabeth graciously wrote about how she enjoyed them.
(Note: Part of this is taken and edited from a little note I sent to Elizabeth after we met, which summed up my feelings about the meeting, just in case she’s reading this and thinking “Hmmm, that sounds familiar.”)
Getting a chance to sit and talk with Elizabeth about books, writing, life, how we came to Paris, and how it is to make a life in this city was very inspirational to me. I felt very encouraged that it is possible to be a “regular girl,” write, and be published. Not to say that Elizabeth is merely “regular.” In fact, I can tell she is a dedicated, hardworking, driven person and this is extraordinary to find in people anymore, don’t you think?
Anyway, it made me feel good to get a chance to talk to someone who “did it.” Someone who went through that process of finding her voice and her story, writing about it, and then setting about getting that story published. She did it and and came out the other side of that process with something bound, very readable, and acclaimed. I don’t know if I could think of anything in life that would make me happier to have accomplished: to write and publish a book. It’s like knowing someone who actually made it to the end of the rainbow, to Nirvana, to the Promised Land. Yeah, I know: she still has to get up and work everyday, she is still a wife and a mom and changing diapers after publishing a book — so I am not too airy-fairy about the whole thing. But I do feel encouraged and inspired by having had a chance to sit and talk with Elizabeth on a rainy Paris afternoon about our lives as women and writers/readers/lovers of life.
It’s recommended by Lenny Kravitz! So you know, you HAVE to go because Lenny says so, haha!
I could not eat the falafel. They prepare it with chickpea AND wheat flour, so no go. I had the Shawarma: some roast turkey and lamb, spiced and served with cucumber, tomato, roasted eggplant, and what I think was shredded celery root. It was served in a pita, which I could not eat, but I had a fork and could eat the filling, which was stuffed in the pita pocket in such a way that it acted like a bowl. If you are someone that is super-sensitive to gluten, you may want to skip this place, but if you can handle a little cross-contamination, then it may be worth a shot to try the Shawarma. It cost 7 euros. A regular falafel is only 5 euros.
I really enjoyed the Musée Carnavalet, too. For one, it is free, and free is great with our retrenchment project. Two, it is Paris’ history museum, focused on various eras of Paris history starting from the Medieval times with paintings and artifacts from the centuries to show Paris’ development as a city. What was really special to me was seeing the artifacts from Marie Antoinette and her husband Louis XVI from the time when they were imprisoned before their executions.
I won’t share more here, but I uploaded photos into a set on Flickr: The Musée Carnavalet, the Marais and the Hôtel de Ville.
I also met another nice couple this past weekend, a Frenchman (Matthieu) married to a really nice Chinese woman (Joanna). Joanna contacted me via Expat Blog the day after I joined the network! She wants to work on her English as she and her husband hope to move to the States at some point. We had coffee and conversation at a Starbucks in Les Halles on Saturday. I very much enjoyed meeting them both. I also went to a little concert in which Paul’s son performed in the town of Courbevoie. He plays guitar and sings, and he writes his own songs. He and his friends, a keyboardist and a drummer, did really well for it being their first rock concert, ever! We were proud of him for getting in front of people and working so hard. He is an excellent guitarist and songwriter — he writes really good lyrics in both French and English. Who knows. Maybe he is a rock star in the making.
Finally, I was fortunate to meet some very special and dynamic blogger women on Friday evening at a blogger’s meetup:
Leesa, on the far left, is the bloganista at News From France. Brigitte writes at Pretty in Paris, and Dawn at Notes from Noëlle. Carolyn of My Sydney Paris Life hooked me up with Leesa, who introduced me to Brigitte and Dawn at the picnic we had on the Seine in the 5th arrondissement, just upriver from the Musée de la scuplture en plein air, at the park-like Left Bank quai where other picnickers were relaxing on concrete stairs shaped in half-moon semi-circles.
I had such fun meeting everyone, including other friends of Leesa’s and Dawn’s parents and in-laws. It was a great time! I posted more photos at Flickr here: Blogger Meet Up – June 18, 2010. Leesa has a couple of posts on her blog about it, too, here, here, and here (that last post has a few more photos of me at the event, too, if you want to stalk me there).
How does my garden grow?
Speaking of stalks, check out what my garden was doing earlier this month. The onion plant I have sprouted a flower! An onion flower! I had no idea there were such things. My mint and lemon thyme is growing like mad — they are already probably twice the growth as in these photos. The garlic (see this post for more on the garlic) bit the dust, though. It wasn’t looking too good, kind of getting dry in its stalk yet also sort of rotten-looking at the base. I tired to remove the dry leaves and the whole stalk came apart. It has not sent up a new shoot or anything. The bulb is firmly rooted in the soil, though, so I have left it alone. Everything else is growing pretty well, though.
What’s up next? I have been tagged by two bloggers, Tanya in Transition and Traveling Amber, so I need to hop on their tag questions and write stellar answers for them. Who knows what else will happen this week… The last couple of weeks have been full of activity, and if this indicates a trend, I am going to be a busy chica. In fact, I not only got a little worn out from doing all that stuff with my friends, I am worn out writing about it. I guess it is time to stop.
Be well, everyone.
Over and out.
An Alien Parisienne