Last Tango in Paris
After the Louvre and the dismal dinner chatting with a lone English girl who had absolutely nothing to say, I went home and tore my hotel room apart searching for Henri's number to no avail. I barely HAD anything, how could I lose it? Of course, it was just a little scrap of paper and like so many little scraps of paper with important information-directions for difusing nuclear weapons, the address of Belomondo, how to make abba zabbas-it was somehow lost.
But it seemed when we went to the cafe in the morning that the people there knew him, and even if he wasn't there that I could leave him a note. So the plan become to briefly walk by the cafe and ask about Henri. If there was no word, I would simply go on a moonlight cruise on the Seine, get some sleep, and take my ass home.
On one hand, I really wanted to stay. For the loneliness I started to feel and the crying desire to be able to speak to people without having to think for five minutes before every sentence did not out weigh that I was actually happier in Paris. I didn't think of Eric, and for the first time in three years I didn't think about how much better things would have been if he was around. I didn't cry for eight days, which may not seem like a big deal to others, but to me it was a milestone.
Still, my ankle was not improving. It wasn't getting worse, but it wasn't improving. In order for it to heal I suspected I would be on bed rest. Well, if I had to lay in a bed it might as well be a bed in the US. If I stayed in Paris, I wouldn't want to rest, I would want to hobble around and exacerbate my condition and end up talking to le docteur in a hospital explaining why I was being such a jackass walking around on an injured foot.
On the other hand, there was the loneliness, not for romance, but to talk to my friends, to share with them what I had seen, to tell my mother about the impressionists at the D'orsay ( she would love it), and caffienatrix about the coffee, and UDR about the men. I wanted to be able to speak without thinking. Oh how much sympathy did I have for my students in those final days in Paris! To be able to chat amiably without every comment being the struggle for life itself.
So I decided not to extend my stay because of the foot. I was worried, more worried than I care to admit. But fear hadn't stopped me so far, pain and the threat of permanent injury however are complete different. Having just recovered from bursitis and tendonitis this summer, I had no wish to compound my injuries.
Everything in Paris seemed surreal. From the first day to that last, I would wake up in the morning with the sound of mopeds outside, the cool Paris air blowing in my window and I would think, "This is just unreal." I'm not sure what about it made it seem unreal, but it had a dream quality to-like an august strindberg play (Dream Play perhaps? or was that Ibsen?). In the night, I wake up out of a sound sleep and see the full moon out my window. There are two clouds in the sky. The moon is brighter and larger than I've ever seen it, and the clouds picked up some of the luminescence. You can't buy symbolic content like that. You have to be a witness to it. All I could think was, "How can I leave? How can I live in NYC after this? Knowing it's all right here?"
I decide my last day is dedicated to shopping. Aside for a few things I bought for my mother, I had nothing for other people. I knew where I wanted to go. I got up late and decided to casually walk by the cafe where Henri took me. As I walked I thought, "What if he is there, but not happy to see me?" I decided to walk by and be casual. If he doesn't want to see me, well I'll just go to the metro.
I see him through the glass of the cafe. His eyes light up and comes to the door and hugs me. I explain in my broken french that I lost his number. We sit and chat for a bit, he gives me a number. He asks me what I would like to drink and I say "I'll have what you're having." Apparently he was having a kir royal for breakfast. Hey, why not? It's my last day. So I have a kir royal and we agree to meet at 6 that night. Which gives me basically five hours to shop and get back to my room to shower and pack. I rush out onto the street and head directly St. Michel where I buy clothes for myself, a few shot glasses for friends (I would never buy shot glasses, but they were specifically requested-the guy threw in a free tour eiffel keychain though-interesting since I didn't actually GO to the tour eiffel), chocolate for my mother and friends, 3 bottles wine for myself (at nicolas-one bottle for my birthday), and other odds and ends for friends. Also I buy a rolling backpack to put all my purchases in as I don't have a suitcase.
In the afternoon, I return to the Clou de Paris, although the food is better elsewhere the waiters are attractive and conversational. Rafique is happy to see me. I sit and read my Adam Gopnik book while having goat cheese and wine. I chat with one of the other waiters, a tall dark skinned waiter who was still in shock over the price of houses in the south of france. He was born, apparently, in the North where houses are cheap. His family lives there, but he wants to move them to the south. He kept walking by and telling me the price in Euros for various houses in france and then shaking his head. He had the same expression as many NYC apartment shoppers, the "They want how much for that?!" look. Rafique wants to rendez vous with me after he gets off of work at one am. I figure things don't work out with Henri, it's good to have a back up plan.
I get home and pack my belongs, which in a week have accumulated to: 3 bottles of perfume ( plus samples), 3 pairs of panties ( I would wash them in the sink every night and put them on the windowsill to dry), 2 tunic tops, two sweaters, two skirts, a long sleeved top, 3 bottles of wine, 3 books on art from the d'orsay, some chocolate, half a loaf of good french bread, and what I had when I arrived-my cd walkman, the gopnik book, my journal and of course id and wallet. The bag just fits all of these items. I showered put on one of my new tunic tops and sprayed myself with a sample ( Tsar by Van Cleef and Arpels) and went off to meet Henri.
Bad Bunni posted at 9/30/2004 10:07:00 AM
A General Disclaimer Which Has Nothing To Do With Paris
It has come to my attention that I have been getting a lot of search hits for divorce. Most of the time the search hits are for "divorce chris dufresne." In fact I received three hits for "divorce chris dufresne" this week alone. Either there are a lot of unhappy Mrs. Dufresnes or there is one very determined person who strangely keeps visiting my site. Recently, however, I've been getting more general divorce searches, like yesterday I received "divorcing vincent donofrio."
For the record, despite the most sincere efforts of a drunken fireman two years ago on St Patrick's day, I am not now nor have I ever been married, which means that I also can not be divorced. Anyone looking here for information on divorce, whether it be from chris dufresne or the jolly green giant, is going to be DEEPLY disappointed.
Bad Bunni posted at 9/29/2004 10:27:00 AM
I slept late the day I went to the Louvre
. It was raining and so I figured I could enjoy the bed and the drizzle outside. My ankle had not gotten worse, but it hadn't improved either. The thick carpeting in my hotel kept me from realizing how painful walking really was.
I managed to hobble to the metro station and strangely began heading instinctively towards St. Michel. Finally I got into the Louvre and armed with nothing more than a map ( I didn't use anything other than maps in the museums) I began my trek through the Louvre.
I began optimistically enough. My plan was start off looking at French Painting: 14th though 19th century. Then head to the Restoration apartments on the 1st floor, next the 13th through 18th century Italian painters. Then the 5th through 19th century French sculpture. Next Greek antiquities and 16th and 18th century Italian sculpture. Finally down to the "Medieval Louvre."
I managed to get through most of 13th through 19th century french painting before I realized that my schedule would have to be amended. I even wrote down what I liked in each room. It took me two hours to go through some of the second floor of the Louvre. There were three other floors and my ankle was already bothering me. So I decided to just note the names and paintings I liked. Later it would just become the names of artists. Often they were illegible.
I will not bore you with the details of all the works I liked there, but I will say two things. The first is that if you don't speak french, the Louvre is a good way to learn. It's like the biggest picture book ever. Sure that I had some rudimentary French helped, but when I look at a painting called Interior D'Eglise, it helps me remember that eglise is church. Don't bother with too much English translation, just look, you'll figure it out. Second, if you spend all day in the Louvre simply looking at things you will learn a great deal about art. I learned how to recognize a Boucher vs a Fragonard. I learned that Fragonard used dramatic diagonal compositions to heighten the feeling of tension in his paintings. I learned that Pannini is the Cannaletto of interiors. I learned that if you are very crafty you can admire the work and rest your ankle at key intervals in the day.
For the People by the People
Of course, another great attraction of the Louvre is the collection of tourists there. While I was sitting at the Louvre ( downstairs in Italian sculpture after enjoying Canova), I realized the majority of tourists looked like professional photographers. I don't mean they just had little cameras, I mean they had lens and bags and accoutrements.
This situation was particularly surprising at the Mona Lisa. Thanks to the Da Vinci Code ( I won't even bother to link) and pals the Mona Lisa was swamped making it difficult for a little girl like me to get close enough to see it. I did see it, although briefly. What surprised me was the blue of the background. It was a more vibrant turquoise than I expected. But the crowd was taking pictures of the Mona Lisa. As if there aren't enough pictures of the Mona Lisa already. The more obscure works like L'Albane or Truchi I understand, but the Mona freakin' Lisa?
Although the crowd around the Mona Lisa was annoying, it had one benefit. The crowd quickly moved by the Raphaels, Caravaggios, Botticellis ( UDR once said I had the face of Botticelli-he is very wrong-I look more like a Boucher or even more sadly like a Rubens) and the "lesser knows" like Pannini, Reni, Fetti, and Truchi without even a glance.
The other surprising development was tourists asking to have their pictures taken with great works of art. Some of the works I sort of understand. I mean sure the winged victory of samothrace (which is HUGE-it was incredibly massive) or Cupid and Psyche, I can see have a picture taken with those works. A kind of "look I was standing next to this absolutely stunning and sublime work" type of picture. But what struck me was how tourists mainly cared if the work was famous or not. For example a very pretty couple ( both with intense large blue eyes) from Tennessee asked me to take a picture of them with Michelangelo "A Slave Dying." It doesn't exactly say "young couple in love" or "wish you were here."
The Tennessee couple was starved for conversation. They clearly wanted to talk to me, and I couldn't tell if my silence was from habit or if it was simply that I had no desire to talk to these particular people. To ask them why they had come here and how long they were staying and how did they like Paris and had anyone been rude to them. I just didn't have the time or the energy or the will. I was trying to get through the Louvre. In the end sacrificed French sculpture, most of the Greek antiquities, and the medieval Louvre so I wouldn't end up screaming as I walked down the halls. After making it through the Italian painting hall, I went to a cafe inside the Louvre ( hoping a rest might help the situation) and order an "infusion" which actually means tea (which is not what I thought it meant-I was actually hoping for a transfusion of will or maybe opium). But after my break I was still in pain and tired. I went down the bookstore to buy a book, but the selection was scanty or maybe my general fatigue prevented me from being reasonable. I left and headed back to my hotel to rest before I went to the No Stress Cafe for mouthwatering steak bearnaise and red wine.
more to come...my dinner at the no stress cafe...the return of henri...shopping in paris...
Bad Bunni posted at 9/28/2004 05:27:00 PM
I should explain before I go any further my general practices on visiting museums with some commentary on how the majority of tourists seem to act. I don't use audio guides. Well, at least not the first time. Umberto Eco in his essay "Travels in Hyperreality" condemned amusement parks like Disney World for essentially making attendees into machines. He didn't address the passive nature of the customers (sitting calmly as they are ferried through a "small world"), but the parks essentially regulate and therefore homogenize the experience. It seems to me that audio guides do the same thing. They direct passive museum goers to what works have been deemed the most important and then why instead of encouraging the goers to seek out the works that are the most provocative and just look and learn from thinking and looking. Instead you have goers who simply walk through museums with cameras, looking only at the recorded image of the work and not the work itself even when it is in front of them. If they do walk through, they simply plug themselves into head sets and don't interact with the other museum goers.
The museum goers who eschew audio guides and cameras still tend to stampede towards "the great works." I like to explore as much as possible. Certainly even in a small museum like the musee d'orsay one can not see everything, but I took my time on the first two floors before I went to the "Impressionist" floor.
Not that you care, but here is a floor by floor break down of the works I was the most impressed with.
Femme Piquee par un Serpent
Pan et Oursons-Emmanuel Fremiet
Eve Apres le Peche-Delapanche
Le Foi, L'esperence, La Charite and les Zinnias -Josef Mehofer
(at this point bunni loses her patience looking up links, if you want to see these things google them yourselves)
Joseph Grane-Maguerite Morens
the works of Carriere
Femme dans la Rue-Louis Augustin
La Chambre a Van Gough a l'Arles
Etude D' Apres nature- Latour
Portrait de Madame Paul Hellene-Paul Hellene
La Sorciere-Levy Dhurner
La Chat Blanc-Bonnard
the works of Henri Cross
L'enfant a la Soupiere-Carriere
The cathedral in Rouen ( blue/gold) Monet
Garden of the Nymphs ( blue/rose) Monet
I would like to say that I didn't list a lot of the MAJOR WORKS that everyone goes to see. Whistler's Mother is a great painting, but I'm thinking that I don't have to tell you all that. I went for the works that I supposed are less popular.
In the musee d'orsay I finally get lonely. Not that I wanted Eric to be there, I didn't. But I wanted someone to be there. I was a bit relieved that UDR wasn't there, as he wouldn't have let me wander the museum on my own, but would have had to steer me around and lecture me. Not that I mind a good lecture, but, well, after I saw what I wanted to see. (He was fairly disparaging of my favorite statue, but well, it's what I have come to expect from the crazy one.) But still, it would have been nice to sit and talk to someone, someone fairly fluent in english, about what I had seen.
But since that wasn's available, I picked up another man.
I was sitting on the bridge outside of the d'orsay contemplating my loneliness when I made the mistake of smiling at a very cute guy who reminded me of Vampire Hunter D. Said had high cheek bones, light red hair, and green eyes. He was Algerian and a construction worker. He invited me to coffee. He was rather poorly mannered, more aggressive and rude with the waiters than I would have dared. He also spoke no english and often simply broke into a wide Belmondo like smile whenever I silently looked at him.
Unfortunately Said didn't believe in showering. He wanted to take me out that night dancing, which considering my swollen and throbbing ankle I couldn't consider, but with the BO factored in, well, it was literally unimaginable. He might have been charged with crimes against humanity. I tried to hint it to him by asking for time to go back to my hotel to shower (I needed it anyway), but he offered to go with me. "No, no" I thought, "It's not a come on. It's a MAJOR HINT." But Said was also not so quick on the uptake. ( Right, right because it couldn't possibly be my frenglish peppered with interpretive dance.) I agreed to meet him for dansing and hobbled home.
The Return of the Worst Thing Possible
When I got back to the hotel, my ankle was extremely red and swollen. I had managed to get through the musee d'orsay with a combination of will and long rests. I took a bath and soaked my ankle. I was afraid I was dealing with a localized infection that could spread up the lymphic system. (I have been treated numerous times, and even hospitalized, for this condition.) Of course, if I stopped walking altogether and rested for two days the condition would probably go away. But I couldn't really stop walking. I still had to go the Louvre and NOT going to the Louvre was not an option. I wouldn't even consider it. Even if I had to stump up and down the halls of the Louvre on my TONGUE, I was going to the Louvre.
But there was, on the other hand, no need to tempt fate more than I was already tempting it. To be sure my continued walking was kind of like sticking my tongue out in a manner that could have been derisive, but could just be licking my lips at fate. I wasn't ready to give fate the full bronx jeer.
Instead of returning to St Michel for dinner ( a mistake) or going to the Tiger ( another mistake), I wandered and ended up at Au Rendez-Vous des Artistes. My random selection of places had served me well so far, but this was a tactical error. However, I tell myself its ok to be slumming it tonight, what with the ankle. I will have dinner and go home and rest so that I will be able to make it through the Louvre without having to resort to mollusk like behavior.
More to come..the Louvre...the Return of Henri...Homecoming
Bad Bunni posted at 9/27/2004 03:34:00 PM