L'Amour Posted by Hello
I fell in love with her almost as quickly as I fell in love with Eric. He had a picture of her taped up to his wall from one of those awful see fifteen countries in a week tours that his mother was so proud she took him on. I saw her, her hip upturned, despite her nudity, her ankles crossed, a touch of demurity, the clearly intentional nature of the pose ( the block beneath her hips to raise them) jaxtaposed with her sleeping unconsciousness.
All he could me about her was that she was in the musee d'orsay. He didn't know the title of the piece or the year or the artist who created it. ( You would think an artist would pay more attention to details.) He promised to take me to Paris to see her.
That was how it started. I met Eric a week before I saw her. The first time I went to his dorm room he promised to take me to see her. To sit on the banks of the Seine and eat bread and cheese and drink wine. To be lovers with no money in paris.
In the beginning we talked about it often, staying in hostels, only bringing a backpack, I would brush up on my french. But we were worried about money. I was trying to get a job. He was going through school. We put off Paris for sometime in the future, sometime before we got married. Other fantasies took up more room, moving in together, getting married, and having children. There was no rush, after all, to get to Paris. I was the love of his life. We would always be together.
Always is apparently a much shorter period of time than anticipated. Two weeks after september eleventh, I awoke to find him taking a box of his stuff and leaving a note. We agreed to continue to "date" but shortly after that he showed up to a date with hickeys all over his neck. Later that night he told me he wished he taken me to Paris. He meant to. He had meant to stay in love with me too. But he hadn't.
And so I gave up on going to Paris in the same way that he gave up on loving me.
It wasn't until UDR said the second time that we met "I should take you to Paris," that the idea that I could go to Paris without Eric ever seriously entered my mind. I didn't realize that UDR was giving me his Standard Seduction Line. But it was UDR's ex wife who absolutely insisted that I go to Paris, that I could do it alone.
What made me buy those tickets in the end after all this time? I can't say. But I knew one thing. No matter what happened I was going to see that statue.
I went into the Musee D'orsay not knowing how I would find her. I didn't have a time period or a title. But she was at the end of the main hall: La Jeune Tarentine named after an Andre Chernier poem the sculpture was created by Alexander Schoenewerk and presented in the Salon of 1872.
On the main floor were other stunning works like Delaplanche's Eve After the Fall and Clesinger's Femme Piquee par un Serpent ( Cleopatra).

"New York, New York" and Other Songs One Hears In Paris
Because Rafique, my young waiter at le Clou de Paris, was not on that night I went to another restaurant on Rue St. Jaques called Maison Richard, which for a higher price had a much nicer steak au poivre and a lovely cheese plate for dessert. M.R. had a piano, but it was early yet and so diners had to settle for a cd of piano standards featuring, suprisingly, "Somewhere over the Rainbow" and "New York, New York." Not once in Paris did I hear "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes" ( I have a lovely cover by Eartha Kitt) or "Ma Vie en Rose."
Sitting at dinner, I begin to have conflicting emotions. On one level I am bursting, just dying, to tell my friends of my adventures, or really to tell anyone who vaguely understands english of my adventures. Unfortunately all the Americans I ran into disgusted me, and the majority of other tourists I met spoke pidgin English, even expressing the simplest of emotions became an adventure of interpretive dance.
One the other hand, a large part of my difficulty could be dispelled by simply purchasing a phrase book. It's not even that finding one was a problem. I saw them. You can buy guides and so forth at newspaper shops, but I didn't. In someways this perpetuates my usual situation in New York. In New York, people don't understand me but the reason is not because of HOW I talk, but rather what I talk about. Here the inability to be understood seems cleaner. And it also leaves me unattached to pursue my own agenda. Also, apparently, I like men a lot better when I can't understand what they are saying.
I begin to miss Henri.
A Moment of Reflection on Cultural Differences
"They got the same shit over there that we got over here, it's just a little different."-John Travolta as Vincent Vega in Pulp Fiction
Ass grazing skirts-
The whole I know your whole gynecological history from a casual sweep of the eye length skirt has not yet hit Paris. I only saw two mini skirts in Paris, the yellow one outside of Notre Dame and a pink terry cloth juicy skirt in the Louvre. Both, clearly were worn by tourists. Odd to find such demurity in the city that was once known for its "naughtiness." This is not to say the women aren't sexy, they are, very much so. But they know how to dress. The mid riff exposing top has hit Paris, but only a slight form. Half tops are still only sported by tourists.
Cell Phones
Although almost all Parisians have cell phones, but, unlike New Yorkers, they are not constantly talking on them. In New York it is not uncommon for me to walk by a cafe and see a couple, each one speaking on a cell phone. In Paris, I didn't see this. Even people sitting alone didn't constantly yap into a cell phone. The parisians, when receiving a call, also politely excuse themselves and take the call at some distance from you. A much nicer situation than being dragged into a whole bunch of drama unneccessarily.
Water Bottles
As Douglas Adams pointed out, there is really no reason for the water bottle craze. There is plenty of it available. No reason to schlep your own personal reservoir about. The parisians concur. If I felt thirsty, I would stop at a cafe and have a drink. One might say it's a brilliantly simple concept.
Fear Itself
While walking with Julien trying to find the invisible street, I pulled or twisted something in my achilles tendon. My left ankle was more than sore, it hurt. I started walking through the latin quarter after dinner, but it was crowded and I was in pain. I decided it was better if I went back to the hotel, had a tarte tatin at the tiger, soaked my ankle for a bit and then went to bed. Even though it was friday. I justify this by saying it's ok to be a loser tonight because I'll go out saturday night.
More to come...la musee d'orsay...la jeune tarentine...

The Reliquary of the Umbilicus of Christ and Other Parisian Distractions Posted by Hello
While I was in Paris, I went to Cluny, also known as the Musee National du Moyen Age. To anyone who has ever gone or enjoyed the Cloisters, you need to go to Cluny. I mean, right now. Don't wait. Unless you can only book on a Delta flight, then you should wait, but not too long. Cluny makes the Cloisters look like Six Flags, all gimmicky and cheap.
Cluny, much like the Cloisters, is a hodge podge. It has fifteenth century shoes (which very pointy-both the heel and the toe), which honestly make Manolo Blahnik shoes look divinely comfy in comparison. There are third century fabrics from Egypt, which were more patterned and exciting, and I dare say even erotic ( especially the topless Amazon hunting pattern) than I imagined possible. There are gargoyles which one can get a much closer look at without having to schlep to the top of Notre Dame (good for disabled little girls like myself). There are fifteenth century Venetian swords (Machiavelli) and chain mail. There are the Roman Baths. There is a Book of Hours that can be leafed through AS WELL AS a book of illuminated music ( I didn't even know such things existed). One triptych featured an assembly of various saints all armed ( swords, clubs, knives). One saint in particular was wearing reading glasses while looking at a book and yet in his other hand was a drawn sword. Kind of makes me understand the storing I hear about parochial schools and nuns. (Unfortunately I can not find pictures for many of these items, and my faith that others took decent photographs was apparently in this case ill placed. I guess that means I'll just have to go back!)
Of course the most famous pieces at Cluny are the Unicorn Tapestries which are, to my thinking, much better than the Unicorn Tapestries at the Cloisters if only because they are in better condition. However, the six tapestries (the five sense and the "soul at rest") were also more accessible than the tapestries at the Cloisters because the images were simpler.
What does seem like an utter lack of PR savvy is that in the reliquary room is alledgely in possession the reliquary of the umbilical cord of Christ, and no one seems to notice. One would think that perhaps such an item should be more advertised, but it simply displayed in a corner of a room without fanfare or neon lights or even a bumper sticker. It does, however, count for the smugness of the French. I mean they have the UMBILICAL CORD OF CHRIST. One has to think that counts for something.
Le Jardin du Luxembourg
Until you have seen the Luxemburg gardens, you have no idea how decadent and yet accessible a public park can be. I never considered that brown eyed susans and begonias ( my mother's favorite) set in a meticulously maintained park could be so beautiful. There were wild color combinations, statues surrounded by gold and purple flowers.
In the gardens I see another perspective photograph, a group of men playing what I can only assume is bocci ball. I don't know how the hell one plays bocci ball, but well there were balls involved so I'm just guessing.
I walk slowly through the entire gardens sitting and resting by the miniature statue of liberty. There is the large reflective pool, the palais du Luxembourg, the miniature pony rides for the kids (instead of horse drawn carriages), the carousel that Adam Gopnik's son spent a lot of time riding.
Threshold of Revelations
In the gardens I realize that I will not, despite my enforced march, see everything I want to see in Paris. I have to accept that something, Les Invalides, La Place de la Republique, will have to be sacrificed. Further I realize that UDR's forecast that I will never want to leave to true. I wonder how it is he can prefer to live in NYC knowing that Paris exists. How can his ex-wife live in NYC when she has lived in Paris?
New York City, of course, has its own advantages, but NYC is kind of like my mother often annoying, occasionally traumatizing, but also filled with wonderful stories, lots of distractions, and great food. Paris is like a first love, even the faults seem charming initially.
Je suis un artist sensitif.
On my way back from the luxemburg gardens, completely starving and in need of a rest, a young French man, named Julien, asks me where a certain street is. Not knowing, I simply handed him the map I had in my hand and thus began another three hour extravaganza. The young man in question spoke French with a lisp, or perhaps that was simply Provence accent. We ended up meandering through the latin quarter in search of a street that remained unfound. Eventually we sat and talked, which was difficult considering that his english was limited and so was my french. After we chatted for a while and he didn't hint at going back to his place or try and kiss me, I said "You know you aren't like other Parisian men. You aren't aggressive." He stopped and looked at me "Well," he said "That's because I write poetry." I began thinking that King Missile definitely needed to do a cover of "I am a sensitive artist" in french.
Immediately following the admission he was a poet, Julien asked to go back to my hotel with me. He had a dinner party that night but he of course he had time to stop by my room if we left right then. I told him it wasn't possible. He asked if we could meet the next day before he went to work. I said sure and told him where to meet me. I knew I wouldn't be making that assignation, which probably didn't matter since the likelihood is he couldn't find where I told him to meet me.
more to come...

SANCTUARY! Posted by Hello
I get off at the Hotel de Ville metro stop and head towards Notre Dame. I am have made a solemn oath with myself not to look or smile at anyone. I am not allowed ANY crazy artists until I get done sightseeing for the day.
Notre Dame is really the first BIG tourist attraction I enter. Unlike St Eustache, where there isn't anyone around, and Sacre Couer. where the guards are very aggressive about tourists being quiet, the tourists at Notre Dame are loud and obnoxious. While standing still trying to look st the windows and paintings, I was continually jostled. No one stands still in Notre Dame, they simple walk and take pictures or glide about with a video camera. Most of the photographers and videographers plow over each other oblivious even to anything but the screen in front of them. The tourists do not simply look in the moment, but will look when they get home.
While I am standing looking at a particularly amazing stained glass window, I am bumped into by someone speaking in Italian. The person keeps bumping into me, and finally I turn to see who is being so rude. I am confronted by an entire group of tourists who all look asian, but are speaking fluent Italian. Something about the moment seemed surreal, it seemed not right. Of course, it occurred to me later, there was no reason why anyone growing up in Italy, regardless of appareance, wouldn't speak Italian, but somehow it just seemed wrong. I saw and dealt with a great many asian looking people who spoke french, this didn't bother me. ( Perhaps because I saw the film Indochine when I was fairly young and therefore knew about the interaction of these two cultures.) But somehow the whole scene struck me as slightly Pirandello.
I did not stay long at Notre Dame. The outside arches of the doors reminded me of Westminster Abbey, but I preferred the quiet of St Eustache.
However, Notre Dame is the first place that I really wish I had a camera, not for the structure itself, but because once outside I saw a Japanese girl wearing a yellow mini skirt, a matching yellow and hot pink spandex top, nylons, and lace up, knee high, stilletto sneakers. The whole ass grazing, gynecologically revealing skirt trend has not yet caught on in Paris. This tourist was the first woman I saw with a skirt cut above the knee. There she is, Paris in fall, walking into a famous gothic cathedral in stilettos without any self consciousness at all.
Before I go to Cluny, for I am on an enforced march of sight seeing, I go to a cafe and have cafe au lait and croissant. The criossant is nothing spectacular, but I smoke while I am eating. Instead of making me feel very parisian, ver sartre, it makes me feel like I am in an American diner in the 1950's. This might have to do with two young guys wearing all black, except for white socks, with the guitar smoking and drinking coffee in the corner.
Next door is a crepe stand that also sells hot dogs. Here is another picture I was I had taken. If you go to Paris, there are many places where you can buy hot dogs. Now, being a New Yorker, I just assumed it was a regular NYC sabrett's on a bun and I wondered who on earth came to Paris to buy a hot dog? But in Paris, as I observed, if you order a hot dog, the man takes half a baguette, cuts it in half, and places two hot dogs (end to end) inside. This is no way an endorsement. I didn't taste the hot dogs although I wondered what it tasted like on good french bread.
more to come...cluny..le jardin du luxembourg...the lost french men

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