Paris Diaries: Eternal

I wasn't leaving Paris again without seeing the Thinker in person. While David had told me to go to Musee de Rodin, he hadn't quite impressed me with why I should go.

The Musee de Rodin is one of the best museums in Paris and the perfect museum to visit in May. The Thinker is in the sculpture garden amidst rose bushes taller than I am. I, saving my photos for Versailles, foolishly
thought SOMEONE would definitely take a picture of such a glorious sight-the seriousness of the Thinker in the middle of such a romantic celebration. Thinking is romantic! How revelatory!

But no one has taken a picture and so you'll just have to rely on my description of it. You walk into the garden ,and there are several large bowers of red roses that obscure the statue so you must walk to the center in order to actually see the statue, up on its pedestle, in the sun.

I moved onto to the Gates of Hell. For the first time, I was a little lonely that the Doberman wasn't there. I'm sure we would have gotten ourselves almost arrested, him trying to get the guard to take a picture of him dragging me toward the Gates as I attempt to escape Eternal Damnation.

The gardens are lovely in that very precisely designed way that the French have of gardening. The grounds are also not crowded. People come there to read the paper, to have picnics, to sit and have tea. And if one bores of the company or needs to take a moment of silence, why there is also all this sublime art to admire. There is also le Jardin de Varenne by the garden where you can buy salads, sandwiches, ice cream, and most importantly, wine. While many museum "cafeterias" are over priced and disappointing, Le Jardin de Varenne, while a bit pricey was worth it and I enjoyed a salad a glass of wine while sitting in the sun admiring the fountain that depicted Ugolino.

If picnicking there, however, one should beware that the little birdies are so friendly and tame that they will make off with the entire top of your sandwich
if you aren't careful, which happened to the elderly couple next to me. Incidentally there is one other fun fact about the Musee de Rodin, it's free for the unemployed!

Unfortunately, Rodin is known for his erotic work. He understand the lines of women, how to give the inner curse of a leg or the twist of a spin. It made me regret not having a lover, which was odd since only a day before I was overjoyed not to be so burdened. It seems it is hard for me to remember what pains the asses boys can be. Luckily there is always one around to remind

While walking through the Musee de Rodin I was again struck by what a miracle art is. A person can take a hunk of clay or a block of marble or a heap of words and out of that create figures and characters and make people feel so much they go home and cry or laugh or screw-to me this is the greatest of miracles.St. Augustine wrote about the power of literature complaining that he wept tears for Dido that he never felt for himself.Thus artists have the power to coax emotions from us that we feel for no one else, not even ourselves.

If that doesn't seem miraculous to you, it's most likely because you haven't really thought about it. Because it's stunning. It's a miracle. It's glorious. You think water to wine is a miracle? That's a liquid to liquid conversion. This is taking a blank page and making characters and a world and a life. OK so it's not slaying of the first born, but it's still pretty impressive especially considering how little time we have on Earth and how many limitations we face.

My students can't think of anything more boring. I wax on about the wonder of Dante-a three part epic poem 100 cantos all together in the terza rima, which reorganizes Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven, handles characters from Greek and Roman mythology, Biblical characters, and contemporary figures not to mention charting the entire trip in real time (there are hints in the Inferno about what time it is, thus you can chart Dante's journey and what time he hits certain levels of Hell). He had to come up with successive tortures not to mention a logic to Hell. (In Dante, that logic is that the sinners are punished by their sins-thus the depressives wallow in the mud of a bog.) It's amazing, it's epic, it's unbelievable. It is, to my students, the height of boredom.

After appreciating the beauty of Rodin, I made my way to the Eiffel Tower. I had never actually seen the Eiffel Tower. My friend David who recommended the Musee de Rodin told me the Eiffel Tower wasn't that interesting. And I believed him.

There may be not logical reason why the Eiffel Tower is so impressive. It just is. I walked close and lay on the grass and looked up at it. With my knee and and ankle bothering me there was no way I could climb the stairs to make it to the first set of elevators, but that was OK. It was a nice day-there was a child climbing a tree near me. Boys walking around oogling girl tourists. Busload upon busload of people from all over quickly trying to snap a pic. The mounted police trot by. Two women walked by and one leaned over to the other and said, "you know they have a smaller one of those in Las Vegas."

But me, I was content to just lie on the grass and look up at the Tower. It's not the Thinker. It's not a Monet, but there is something about it the curved lines. It just seems lovely and strange as does almost everything in France. I took out my guide book and picked a restaurant in the area to find. And I thought about sending him a letter, the one I came here to escape. Everyone deserves one letter from Paris. After all I have let go of my rage here. And he sent me here. Shouldn't he know?

I begin to write in my head, and rewrite it, and perfect it. But I don't bother to pick up a pen. Eventually I tire of imprinting my letter on the Paris sky and just lean back and look and listen and breathe.

Finally I get up and begin to meander in the direction of the restaurant. As I walk, I find a bakery and buy a baguette. It's still warm and crispy from the oven. I begin to feel like i am finding my way again, like I know how to do Paris. I walk the small side streets investigating little markets and stores. I find a dress or two before I finally collapse in a booth at the restaurant. The couple next to me is Texan, they ask if the escargot are "big snails." I manage not to visit violence on them so filled am I with good steak and butter and wine.

I walk slowly back to the hotel through the perfect Paris night. Tomorrow, rain or shine, it's time to go to Versailles.

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The Morning Show With Celebrity Guest Director David Lynch
So I woke up in a mood this morning. Not a sad mood, but a "I want to beat someone, or maybe three, within an inch of their lives" type of mood. This was not helped by the fact that the buses were loaded with people so not one but two buses passed my stop by as more and more people crowded on. Of course, when a bus finally came I knew every stop would take forever to load up with the crowds of people. I finally got to the 1, and of course, it too had been running late so crowds and crowds of people on the train. I get to work, I'm behind. I'm kerfuffled. I still want to beat on someone, but instead I have to go teach the Inferno to a bunch of kids who would rather be playing beer pong on their specially designed beer pong table. (I know for a fact that even the freshmen do that here. They design beer pong tables.)

But there was one thing that made my morning worthwhile. I got on the bus and noticed a kid holding a glass fishbowl with saran wrap over the top. My first thought was it was some sort of algae science fair project. Imagine my surprise when I got closer and beheld that it had a fish and gravel on the bottom and all. It was clearly this boy's pet. I wasn't fast enough with the camera (he got off at the next stop). But he got up and off the bus like it was no big deal and then headed to the subway.

If I was his teacher, I would give him an A no matter what the assignment.

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Avast Ye Matey-International Talk Like a Pirate Day

Aye Matty--Talk like a pirate day
Originally uploaded by hav_time

Garrrrr, ye scurvey dogs, it's International Talk Like a Pirate Day. My landlubbin students were less than amused by the idea, so I made those chum buckets walk the plank. Now those blige rats are probably in the locker of Davy Jones.

If ye beauties would like to enjoy, you can learn pointers on How to Talk Like a Pirate here or just watch Dodgeball (hint hint: Steve the Pirate). Flickr also has lots of piratey goodness. So go there and get to talkin' like pirate smartly or I'll make ye into shark feed.

Hey there, wench, pass me some grog!

Confession Time
So metafilter has finally written about this so I can come out of the closet and admit it. I watch the Pick Up Artist.

I know I know it's shocking to believe that I who spend many up curled up with Dante and Flaubert would waste my time watching this, but well. Let me explain.

When I was in college, I was friends with a guy named Dave. Dave was a benevolent doofus. He wasn't smart, charming, funny, attractive, talented or rich and so even though Dave was a benevolent doofus, he didn't do well with girls. Add to the fact that Dave hit on every woman who stood still next to him long enough and did it in a really "Wow, look at how long I've been hanging out in my mother's basement playin' D and D'" kind of way and you can understand why Dave had trouble getting a girl.

Dave had a childhood friend named Colin. Colin had waist long hair and that olive complexion that has just a touch of the exotic to it. He changed his name to Amadeus or 'deus for short. 'Deus was a ladies man, and when he came to visit I finally had the chance to witness it in person. Dave's girlfriend, Vicky, a dance major who had a great body but the intelligence of a bag of hammers, fell for him. They spent the weekend in bed together. I know because I was her roommate. Anyway, 'Deus would often call for her and if she wasn't home proceed to hit on me. I personally found him fairly disgusting even before he slept with his friend's girl, but after I wanted to shower even after talking to him on the phone. (Vicky got her just desserts when 'Deus bedded one of her friends in her bed, while she sat in the living room tearfully. Dave broke up with her and now seems to have a lovely girl.)

What amazed me was how much the long hair and the silly name worked on chicks. When I saw Mystery of the Pick Up Artist, I thought "My god, it's the same plan." So I wanted to see how this might actually work on women since it didn't work on me at all.

I have to admit I'm still at a loss for the most part (how does one dress like Orville Wright as envisioned by Willy Wonka and still pick up chicks?), but he has some moments. Mystery teaches his little dorklets "sets" and openers" like "Do you floss before or after you brush your teeth?" or "If a girl with a boyfriend kisses another girl is it cheating?" What's interesting about these sets is they begin with a question that does have a conclusion written into, thus placing the focus on the other person and allowing an open response.

Now while I don't agree with sets, and most of them especially the flossing question seem ridiculous to me, the asking of questions is a brilliant lead-in. Often men begin talking to me by asking me what I'm reading. This is a great opener because it shows interest in what I'm doing without judgement (ie "Why are you reading the Inferno? Isn't that boring?"). The conversation can then move on from there.

I was reminded while reading the metafilter comments of a conversation that the Doberman told me about a long time ago. A male regular at the Lion's Den had been rejected by a girl. He bemoaned how he spent so much time trying to get her engaged by talking about various topics that he was interested in or deemed important. He extolled his past as a playwright and talked about his time abroad. However, she rejected him. His male cronies all ponied up stories of attempting to sweettalk women and failing miserably. Art, travel, politics, movies it seemed these women just weren't impressed by any of these vastly important topics. Essentially the discussion came down to "What's wrong with this women that they aren't totally floored by my vast knowledge of these essential topics?" Finally the Doberman walked by. One of the cronies said, "Hey Doberman, you've got a girlfriend. What do you talk about to impress a girl into a date?"

And the Doberman said, "Whatever she wants to talk about."

It's a brilliantly simple lesson and yet it seems that there are many men who have yet to learn that basic idea.

Maybe we can get him a TV show. "How to talk politics and get a girlfriend with your host the Doberman." But the minute he starts wearing eyeliner, I'm gonna pretend I've never heard of the guy.

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