Paris Diaries:If you can make it here
I woke up to find the day overcast and decided to put off Versailles until the next day, which would hopefully be sunny. Instead I decide to give Les Invalides a quick pass before heading to the Musee de Rodin before finally stopping at the Eiffel Tower. My late friend David had told me to go to the Musee de Rodin the first time I went to Paris (David was the one who told me if I went to Paris men would be throwing themselves into the Seine to prove their love to me) and I never managed to get there. This time it was a priority. If it wasn't for his recommendation, it was because of my deep love of statues. It seemed that the Musee de Rodin would be the unique blend of my dearest loves-Paris and statuary.

But before I went there, I figured I would give a quick jaunt into Les Invalides. Sure because of the weather every step I took was like razor blades up my Achille's Tendon, but it's just pain. And I didn't come all the way to Paris to sit with my feet up and wonder what the Thinker really looked like.

I got off the metro and began to wander in the general direction of Les Invalides both being drawn to investigate some picaresque streets and warning myself that if I did so I might not have the energy to really enjoy the Rodin and that was, after all, the most important thing on my Enforced Cultural Death March that day.

I was pretty pleased that I was holding up under the pain until one of the guards at Les Invalides embarassed the hell out of me by yelling across if I was alright because I seemed to be walking in some pain. Well I was fine except for the urge to now go and hide out in my hotel room lest another guard worry about my feet. Still I foraged ahead. Later when I came out it seemed from his attention that instead of trying embarass me, he was trying to flirt with me. What he couldn't come up with a "You look nice today. What's your name?" line? I suppose as a guard that probably wasn't smiled upon, but he's French. He should be able to come up with a better intro to seduction than that.

I didn't bother to go into the museums at Les Invalides, firstly because I had no desire to do so, but secondly because everyone who had gone, even true francophiles, assured me that it was an utter waste of time. Still the walk to Les Invalides, the sprawling impressiveness made me come to one important realization.

I had to get a book deal. I had to find a way that some publishing company would pay to send me to Paris and have ridiculous adventures with men (reading tarot cards by the Seine, getting picked up by cab drivers, trying to delicately hint to young Algerians that they need a shower) and then come home, put my earphones on and write about it for three months. I mean good christ, Peter Mayle turned living in Provence into an entire cottage industry. And he doesn't even have any sexy material. (And thank the good lord for that. Pete, fyi, not an invitation for you try your hand at some erotica.)

I decided that it could be done, and that in fact what I should write is a Single Woman's Guide to Paris.

Of course, immediately I was assailed with doubt. Sure I would think there is a market. I was one of the truly crazy bitches who went to Paris by herself, who enjoyed not really understanding the language, who preferred to be alone than to be with morons just for the sake of company, who enjoyed going on an enforced cultural death march instead of taking the Da Vinci code audio tour of the Louvre. But no one, not even on my best day, thinks me representative of a demographic. I'm a lone ranger, not an every girl.

But then I thought, "Hey it wasn't that kind of thinking that got your ass here, so there must be a way." I thought that if I tried to market/write the guide as a personal essay and insane adventures with advice thrown in about how men come onto you (the oh so creative "So, how are you?" or the inviting "Would you like a drink?") and how to properly pack for such an adventure (put deoderant and other toiletries in a bag-nothing else is necessary). I could market it as a David Sedaris meets Sex in the City only in Paris type of thing. Sure, that sounds to me a lot like bacon ice cream, but it's the type of thing that makes market people light up like the Rockerfeller Christmas Tree.

There's a song about New York that goes, "If you can make it here, you'll make it anywhere." Well despite disability and insanity and sept. 11th and the black out and several major depressive episodes and the general asshattery of NY men I had made it there. And then just to prove a point, I made it to Paris and nothing more than a pocketbook I had some of the best days of my life. And if I could do that, well then getting a book deal, that was going to be the easy part.

Labels: ,

Kinkos is Staffed by Living Brain Donors
And now to undercut yesterday's sad heart felt post with a rant about the idiots I encounter when trying to do something good for my students.

Apologies lest any of you actually ARE former Kinkos employees as my deep hatred of them stems completely from my experience with the 78th st and lexington branch. There might be some decent, hard-working smart Kinkos employees somewhere, but I'm guessing, and it's just a guess mind you, that the smart ones get out early lest they be driven mad by the others who seem like they might be a good argument that spending so much time around toner fluid can cause brain damage.

Instead of requiring a business writing book or books, I put together a booklet of prompts, articles, and scenarios to help the students. It is a win win situation because it is copied thus the cost (around $10) is acceptable to the students who often spend upwards of $60 on a single textbook which may be barely used. Because I design the book, we use about 97% meaning they see this expense as useful and don't mind schlepping it to class. It allows me to tailor their assignments and edit them semester by semester depending on the class dynamic (I put together the textbook after the first week of classes-after I have already received from students a detailed statement about the types of work/assignments they are most interested in).

The downside is that it means I must 1. go to kinkos and place the order which seems like a 10 minute task but actually takes an hour because of how long it takes a kinkos employee to actually get around to writing down your order 2 go to kinkos to pick up the order, which involves another hour waiting around to just pay for the damn things and schlep them all the textbooks back to my apartment 3 schlep all the textbooks to class with me, thus preventing me from carrying any other material on the way to work 4 realize that the idiocracy of kinkos only gave me one box of a two box order thus I am short 6 textbooks which also disrupts my entire class plan 5 go back and wait another hour to explain to them the mistake and hope they still have the other box with the rest of my textbooks 6 bring the REST of the textbooks to class and hope the asshats finally got things right 7 vow, while in a bath with a martini, to go to the staples copy center next time.

Sure it's my fault for not counting the textbooks before I left, but after waiting for an hour to get my order I just wanted to go home and watch Law and Order.


The Sweet Hereafter
This post was originally posted on Sept. 10, 2003. Hopefully you will not be offended by my reference to Pompeii, which was not about what would happen at Ground Zero, but rather a reference to how about my future, which at the time was bleak.

It seems to me that people who weren't here or weren't personally touched by the event that they have moved on, that they wonder what the big deal is. I was reading this post on metafilter which was written only two years after the event and already it was being suggested that those who still thought about Sept 11th were not "moving on" and healing. No one would suggest such a thing to those who witnessed Pearl Harbor or the Holocaust. It reminds me of my mother's mentality that I need to "just get over" having cancer.

This may be an unpopular belief, but there are some things you do not recover from. Not to say that it kills us, but some events leave scars. Some events change us irrevocably. And we may not think about what it is that we lost every day, but the loss is felt unconsciously. Whether it's remembering when Union Square was papered with the faces of the missing or getting used to a different skyline when getting off at Astor Place or even the fact that now we have to take off our shoes to get on a plane at JFK or the fact that anthrax went from being an obscure disease that was rarely thought to becoming a major concern.

The Jews do not believe in forgetting. It is an insult to the past and allows horrible events to be repeated. So for those of us who were here and remember, for those of us who saw people covered in ashes, like living ghosts, walking uptown. For those of us who sat in our apartments waiting for phone calls from friends and family. For those of us who say the faces of those lost, the faces of so much desperate hope on fliers with phone numbers and pleas, on the way to and from work every day. For those of us who never did get those phone calls. We know why the names are still read. We will never forget not just what we lost, but we will also remember the incredibly bravery and selflessness that some amazing people demonstrated that day. And we also will not forget that we did survive, not just as individuals, but as a city. But we will not forget that it happened. And we will hope that it will never happen again. Not just here, but anywhere.

On Passover, the Jews ask, "Why is this day different from all other days?" For me, it was not just because my life changed-my relationship disintegrated, my friends fled the city, my hope that NY could be a safe haven for me was lost-but because the whole world changed. In the movie the Sweet Hereafter (based on the stunning novel by Russel Banks), the narrator, a young girl who survived a deadly school bus crash, talks about how all of them-both the survivors of the crash and the children who died, the parents of the children, everyone who was touched by the tragedy- live in a different town now. We are all living in the Sweet Hereafter.

It was my second day teaching a "serious" course at NYU so I decided to leave early. Back then I typed up my class plans. I wanted to get in early to photo copy the readings and arrange my classroom. Eric and I ran slept in as long as we could. We had enough time to get dressed and have tea and Eggo waffles. I didn't have a tv and we didn't listen to the radio in the morning.

It wasn't until we got up the stairs of the 6 train that we knew anything was wrong. Eric noticed the smoke. We couldn't see anything, and I just figured a building was on fire. He wanted to check it out. I just wanted to print things up. I kept thinking that the students would be all distracted and jittery by the fire so I would have to be firm with them about staying focused.

It wasn't until we got onto Waverly that we saw people standing and staring. We looked in the same direction and saw both towers on fire. That's what was inconceivable to me. How could both towers be on fire? How could it spread? We stood and watched for a bit.

After a few minutes, I said I had to go into the office anyway. I knew NYU wouldn't cancel classes even if the towers were on fire.

And that's when the first tower fell, and that's when I knew I wasn't going to teach anything that day no matter what NYU said.

In that moment when the tower fell, I was surprised that tower in its collapse looked like nothing more than flaking paper. It fluttered slowly. In that moment, all I could think of was my seventh grade latin teacher, Mrs. Hightower.

Mrs. Hightower often gave us historic documents to translate. One document she gave us was on the destruction of Pompeii, a town buried slowly in ash when Mt Vesuvius exploded. That day what struck me wasn't anything in the reading, but her lecture about the destruction of Pompeii.

She told us people drowned by tidal waves caused by the explosion ( they were trying to get out of the city by boat). She talked of people trying to flee before the sun was obscured by the clouds of ash. But what stayed with me was what she said, "But some people stayed thinking it would be alright."

That was it. Some people stayed waiting for the danger to vanish as quickly as it appeared. Some people waited. Some people were slowly covered in ash waiting to see the sun again thinking "Man I am going to be pissed tomorrow when I have to clean this up." Wondering what kinds of games the Emperor would hold to celebrate the survival of the city. Wondering when it was going to stop because it was going to stop.

And for those who waited they saw light again. They saw light in the darkness, but it wasn't the sun. It was flames rising from the city. It was Pompeii burning.

What shocked me was not that people tried to escape danger, that I understood, but that people stayed-chose to stay-that surprised me, but then, I thought, it's always so hard to know the right thing to do. Will running down the stairs save my life or should I take the elevator or should I just stay where I am? Should I wait for people to come find me? And while I make this decision, time is running out.

Eric stood beside me. "I'm sure everyone got out ok" he said. I thought to myself "Some of them stayed." I knew even then, but I didn't say anything.

I thought "You never know when history is going to happen. When the paradigm is going to shift irrevocably."

We went to my office then. They had a tv on. When I walked in the receptionist said classes were still on. "Like hell" I thought.

And the second tower fell.

I emailed my mother to tell her I was alright. I was worried about getting to my apartment on the upper east side. I knew I couldn't walk that far. I was worried about the hysteria, the riots, the tramplings that could occur.

The department asked me to stay, to help comfort students. Eric left. He said he wanted to call his mom, tell her he was alright. I should have known then. I wanted him to stay, but I didn't want to say it, I didn't want to be selfish.

Eventually I made it up town. People up here were having lunch in outdoor cafes like nothing was happening. I got inside and turned on my radio. I got online. I emailed my mother. Eric emailed me to see if I made it back to my apartment. He couldn't get through to his mom, so he had gone to give blood. The blood drive workers had sent people home, there were too many donors. He had gone back to my office but I wasn't there. He went back to his dorm and I wasn't there either ( how could I be, I had to be signed in by a resident).

Two years before 9-11 I attended a party sponsored by Bombay Sapphire gin. They had given out several of those little airplane/hotel mini bar bottles. I had three in my apartment. I stayed up allnight reading and posting on metafilter, listening to the radio, and drinking gin.

Here's the email I got that night. I haven't read it in two years:

dont you
know that no
matter what you
do, where i am,
where you are,
you are never
alone!!!! why,
because i love
you and im
always there in
spirit. i just
talked to my
mom and cant
get through to
you ...again. ill
try later, ill be
around. dont
worry if we cant
talk for a while,
just remember
all the nice
things ive said
i love you so

There never was another Pompeii. No town was ever built on top of the ashes of those lost.

About 2000 years after its destruction by Mt Vesuvius only 2/3 of the city is uncovered. There are still excavations at Pompeii, still discoveries made. The excavations exist for the tourists and scholars, who may now wander through a city where time stopped in 79 AD, but no one lives there.

Labels: , ,

Fast Girl USA
Well I haven't had time to do any Paris writing because Friday an old friend managed to wrangle an invite to an Fashion Week after party. So I was dancing with him and his friends while amidst some really beautiful people and some really questionable fashion. Yesterday I had dinner with Mere Lapin before hitting 42nd street to see Hachet with the Icons of Fright boys. Afterwards we headed to Circus for drinks to celebrate the movie and wacky horror fan hijinx. I managed to meet Optimus Crime and Rainbow Blight of Hate in the Box. One of my former something or others was there, but was apparently too afraid to speak to me. Funny thing about guys in who make horror movies, they're such fuckin' pussies. I mean, OK I can be a scary bitch, but I'm sitting a bar laughing and joking and Mr. Let Me Make Your Worst Nightmare Come True on the Big Screen can't managed to say hi. I had rehearsed responding to every question, I was going to be cordial. I wasn't going to cut his heart out with a casual line, unless, you know, he said something horribly stupid. In which case, I would HAVE to, but I wasn't prepared for him to not even say anything. He looked at me a couple of times, but when he ended up sitting next to each other he moved. Apparently, I am terrifying when I'm happy. Good to know. However, horror boys shook their asses to some old 80s music, and a good time was had. But those horror boys, they call it a night early and and so it was up to me and Hate in the Box to represent. I managed to get home at 6 am, get four hours of sleep, and now I have to get dressed and ready to see a Tony Bennett at Radio City.

Oh yeah, can't wait to go to work tomorrow. Just kill me.

    This page is powered by 
Blogger. Isn't yours?