Paris Diaries: Why I Hate Other Americans
(Since it's been a while I will refresh your memory-after a fairly uneventful first three days-I take a lover back to the hotel and have a very dirty but fulfilling encounter. After I manage to dispose of him, I wake up the next day ready to embark yet again on the enforced cultural death march.)
The Musee D'orsay is and will always be my favorite place in Paris to go. It is because of a statue that was in that very museum that I first went to Paris. I went to Paris with a remembered image in my mind of a photograph I had once seen pinned to my fiance's wall and the knowledge it was somewhere in the D'orsay. I didn't know it's name or how large the D'orsay was. All I knew was that I had to find that statue and see in person before I died.
It was that wish that sent me to Paris for my first time.
I hadn't been back to the D'orsay since my first trip. On Tuesday almost all the museums in Paris are closed so I planned to visit the D'orsay that day. What I hadn't thought about was that every other museum goer in Paris would have the same idea. So I stood on a long long line even though I got the museum only shortly after it opened.
When I finally got in I found that the museum was the way I remembered. There was the statue "une femme pique par un serpent" by the entrance, and of course the statue that I love, the one I came to Paris for, La Jeune Tarentine. In one of the rooms I confronted two paintings and immediately recognized one painting as the work of Ingres and the other as a work "in the school of Ingres" but not his. This recognition-three years after I saw these paintings for the first time and long since forgot seeing them confirmed that in my just stand and look at art approach, I had absorbed and understood more about these works than even I appreciated. I was delighted when my guide confirmed my identification of the paintings and moved on.
While I walking up the main isle, I came across a group of deaf students being lectured in sign language. Nothing in Paris seems real to me-it always seems like some huge Dada-ist play and so the beauty of these silent hand gestures in this place of such overwhelming work seems to be in itself an amazing work of art. I wanted to stay and watch, to see how these deaf teenagers dealt with the art, but moved away allowing them to carry on their class in peace.
There was a special photo exhibition going on and I wandered into a hall way where I found myself being confronted of Ellen Watts reading to her Little Sister in a Window taken by non other than Lewis Carroll. I hadn't expected to see such a photo and to suddenly be witness to it filled my eyes with tears. Another room featured a self portrait by Alfred Steiglitz. Of course under the photo is a plaque which proclaims the title, the artist, and the location in this case Hoboken, NJ. How I longed for that plaque to lie to me. I did not come all this way to see art from New Jersey. Still the beauty overwhelmed any rage I felt at being reminded of the place that housed the very man I had come here to forget.
One of the things I can bond with the French over is their hatred of Americans. I can even help them out by providing them even more reasons to hate us. The main reason I come to Paris is because I rather like being in place where I don't understand the language. The way my mind works, I have to think, listen, and analyze everything I hear. I can't shut out moronic exchanges on the subway, domestic discussions on the sidewalk, incensed arguments about reality television shows in outdoor cafes, the list goes on and on-if I can understand it I listen, but mostly I stifle the urge to throw large household appliances at the heads of other people.
So I flee to other countries where I can enjoy art in the relative white noise of unintelligible language. Unfortunately, in May the museums in Paris are about as populated with Americans as the 6 platform at rush hour. Before you wonder if it's really THAT bad, let me regale you with some examples of American idiocy at the D'orsay.
There were three college age students. They had that grungy "Yeah we haven't showered since spring break, but it's for aesthetic reasons what of it?" type of look. They were in heavy earth tones completely inappropriate for Spring in Paris. They stood in contemplation in front of a Monet.
Girl 1: Every one of these paintings has a gold frame.
Girl 2: You know, I think I'm going to do my thesis project on this. 'Cos, I mean, I was up in the air, but I mean look at the surface area of that painting. The surface area of the frame is WAY larger than the painting. I mean seriously, that has to have an impact on the painting.
Girl 1: Yeah.
Girl 2: I'm serious. There is a definite thesis in this.
At which point my eyes threatened to roll back into my head. Yet they stood there continuing to discuss surface areas and how the color (gold) and detail of the frames change the viewer response to the painting. In fact, the only thing they apparently refused to discuss was the paintings itself. Their conversation was ridiculous I had to walk away and wait for them to move on before I could go back and look at the painting in relative peace without having to consider how the surface area of the frame changed the painting.
Also on the first floor, I saw a guy wearing a t-shirt wearing a t-shirt that Oral B type face has proudly emblazoned BE Oral. He proceeds to use one of the benches for visitors to carry out a series of runners stretches. I'm going to make a statement here-he never deserves to get laid EVER. Nope, no sex for him. Incidentally if I ever catch any of you, dear readers, going into museums wearing t-shirts with cheap sexual humor, well, let me just say that retribution will be swift and effective unlike the clean up process which will take a remarkably long time as well as quite a bit of clorox.
Near the end of the first floor pondering my favorite statue was a middle aged woman whose accent was clear Midwest. She pondered the statue for a moment before declaring "That's nice" and moving on. "That's nice"? That is an appropriate response to a new coffee table or perhaps a well brewed cup of tea, but it is not an appropriate response to some of the best works of art of this century. "Nice" just isn't a word that should be used in the D'orsay.
By the time I reached the end of the first floor my right ankle and left knee were on fire. Which meant skipping most of works on the third floor including a small painting by the famously disturbed mysogynistic playwright August Strindberg. Or at the very least holding them off until after I hit the fifth floor. I've hobbled and hopped my way by some of the best works of art in Paris before, but generally injuries confined themselves to one leg. In my current condition, walking in any form was an exercise in stoic suffering. Still, I made through the first floor, and the works on the first floor seem impressive until you hit the fifth floor. Or to put in another way Pissarro looks amazing until you see the Monet.
The fifth floor of the D'orsay houses the famous works, the ones that everyone is clamoring to see although most of them aren't sure why just that these are Great Works and therefore the ones they can brag to their friends about: Whistler's Mother, Monet, Seurat, Van Gough. The real bigs of impressionism. Everyone is jostling and pushing so they can look at the paintings with their little audio tours pressed to their ears.
I walked through slowly-the Monets are my favorite particularly the painting in which he reworks the same subject with different colors, like Rouen Cathedral. But the impressionist paintings are definitely something you have to see in person because the texture of the paint...it just doesn't translate onto film well.
I managed to ignore the fire in my knee and my ankle for five hours so. Long enough to even enjoy the view of Paris from the fifth floor of the D'orsay. You can see all the way to Sacre Coeur not to mention the Louvre. Before I left, I went and sat looking at La Jeune Tarentine before I left.
The first time I went to the D'orsay it was still a bitter sweet triumph, I still thought of Eric and felt a bit lonely sitting in front of the statue without him. This time I was glad to walk through the museum alone, to go at my own pace, look at what I wanted, not worry about some other person and what they wanted to see or how long they wanted to stay. I began to feel, pain be damned, that I was beginning to find my way again in Paris.
Finally I hobbled to the metro station and began to wonder about dinner.
Labels: musee d'orsay, paris
Bad Bunni posted at 9/01/2007 06:03:00 PM
Finally Something Goes Right
Well HAL 2.0 is apparently back to his usually slow paced but functional self. Can't tell you how exciting that is for me. Now I just have the other 455 crises I have to deal with. So soon, not likely before Friday, but soon the end of the Paris Diaries and the Beginning of the Frehel adventure.
Which isn't such a bad thing because despite having 16 pages of notes. I still have no idea what to call the Frehel debacle except maybe Frenchman Fever.
I need some coffee. And maybe another vacation.
Bad Bunni posted at 8/28/2007 06:00:00 PM
The Lord Sends a Sign that I Should Move: Part One
(While you wait for the Paris posts, there is no reason why I shouldn't continue to keep you apprised of what is going on in my life. I return to teaching tomorrow and will have access to a computer, so I will be able to continue the Paris posts soon. Until then I give you the New York Adventures of Bunni.)
I was in a mood last night. Compounded by the fact that school starts tomorrow and my computer, of course, will be down and out until Thursday. One realizes when such events occur how much of life is lived in the virtual realm. Or at least how much of my life is about interacting with voices and words and websites and not with physical people.
The only exception to that is the bar.
Which is where I headed at 8 at o'clock at night rather than spend the night staring despairingly at the now defunct HAL 2.0.
At 8 o'clock on a Saturday, there aren't many people in the bar. There are, in point of fact, two other men aside from the bartender.
And I've slept with both of them. Neither one of them was a repeat performance-One Hit Wonders, if you will, if you can apply the term "wonder" liberally. As liberally, that is, as I apply my affection.
It's karoake night so my intent is to drink now, go home, have dinner, watch something on IFC or Sundance, and then, perhaps go back out around 2 am. If my computer was up, I be spening the night furiously typing about my adventures, but that is not to be for now.
One of the One Hit Wonders, one for whom I harbor some special disdain, tries to be cordial. We chat for a bit about how Joseph Heller only wrote one books worth reading. I recommend he read Aldous Huxley's After Many a Summer Dies a Swan and Waugh's The Loved One. He gives away his lack of education by thinking that Evelyn Waugh was a woman. "I don't know what she wrote," he comments offhandedly. "Apparently not since Evelyn was a man in the same way Florenz Zeigfield and Harry Truman's brother Vivian were men. Our concepts of gender appropriate names change over time." Unlike my life...or my luck.
Brilliance Personified finally takes the hint that a little chat about literature will not warm my feelings towards him and decides to play pool for both of our sakes. During our conversation, some other people have wandered in. I haven't taken notice of them.
But as soon as the there is a gap by my side Tall, Dark, and Southern Drawl comes sidling up to ask me if my boyfriend or husband is sitting there. I clarify with precision, "I tolerate OHW, but to call him even a friend is a stretch so please take a seat." We chat for a while. He's with friends who are itching to go elsewhere, specifically Auction House, a personal favorite bar that I don't spend much time in because it's not a bar where one can hang out alone.
So off I go with Southern Drawl to Auction House. Now I know, beyond a shadow of doubt, this man wants me for my body. He hasn't been subtle about it. Letting his eyes drop over my body from time to time. Not embrassed about it, but not disgusting either. A look like the whisper of fingers over my skin.
A hint that perhaps what keeps us chatting is that we are more alike than we know.
We chat at Auction House for a bit and this is where the conversation turns directly sexual. He makes a comment, not involving me directly, about going back to his apartment and having wild sex. Although I parry the comment for a bit, later he brings sex up again-this time by commenting, of course, on the impressive nature of my physicality.
"You have no idea" I tell him.
"Really?" "Oh you can try to imagine, but really they are better than anything you can envision. I have this on very good authority." I'm telling him this not because he'll see them tonight. I'm just having fun torturing him with desire. It's a game I've played a lot of other nights. I don't want just sex, but if I can't have what I want I can at least enjoy frustrating another person's desire. Is it the right thing to do? Absolutely not. But I who can deny me what little pleasure I get in this life. Certainly not this tall dark yuppie with a slow southern cadence to his voice.
"You know a lot of women have described uh certain parts of my anatomy as being beautiful. What do you say we go back to my place and I'll show you mine if you show me yours. That's all it will be-show." "Now you and I both know that's not what's going to happen." He tries valiantly again and again. His friends decide even though it's only midnight that it's late. They want to hit a pizza place by his apartment and maybe go home. He, of course, will go with them looking to score some other girl, more drunk, more easily manipulated, before the night is over.
But not before he walks me home. One last try.
He kisses me soft and slow and sensual but with gentle force. My back is against the railing and so I have no other place to go but further into his arms as he slowly explores me with his tongue. I feel his fingers, so gently, on the back of my legs at the hem of my dress. Then under trying to find their way up. He feels the intake of breathe, the pull away, although there is nowhere for me to go. His hand withdraws, going back around my waist. That slow insistent kiss that will not reliquinsh me, keeps going. He takes my hand from around his neck and places down. At first, I don't know what he's trying to do until my mind finally recognizes, quite surprisingly what I'm feeling. Beautiful I can not vouch for, but astonishing certainly.
My body being finely tuned to sensual pleasure is coming alive and he can feel my nipples, now hard, against him. He lifts a hand to feel the solidity of my desire.
He's like me, this tall dark stranger. A person who knows how to manipulate desire. A person who understands how to use sensual pleasure. That I want him in this moment is true. I could close my eyes and give into him. That in wild abandon I would experience extasy in this man's arms is a fact. It's as true and as concrete as the streets of NY. I can feel it under my feet, and through the power of his kiss alone I can almost feel it like a hand up my dress-through my italian lace panties, pressing into me. Like myself, he is one of those that understands the bodies of others even better than they do. If I gave myself to him, it would be deliciously intense. I would spend the next day in a langourous haze-a sexual hangover. But then he wouldn't call. I would pretend not to care, but it would be yet another paper cut on my ego. In the past I've justified this kind of indulgence in the following way: if he's not going to call anyway, why deny myself the only pleasure I could get from him? Now I think, better he disappoint me now.
Better it be now.
I slowly extricate myself from his embrace. He says he'll call. I am properly skeptical. Although man evolved to have opposable thumbs, they rarely use them to call me.
to be continued....
Bad Bunni posted at 8/26/2007 07:38:00 PM