May 30, 2011

Day 40 ~ May 30

It’s after midnight here in Paris and we’ve exhausted the day... Experience has allowed my pen and lens to grow sharper so I could truly see the city, her people, the sights, smells and sounds, and comprehend the impact on me. Here, food is art. Art is in small details. Details are found when you slow down to smell the flowers. Flowers make people happy. People add more to life than anything you can buy... {Bonjour40, the book, will have the full entry}

May 26, 2011

Day 36 ~ May 26

We took a cooking class.... {more photos and details are in Bonjour40 due out in October)

May 22, 2011

Day 32 ~ May 23

Monday through Wednesday we are visiting friends who have luckily bought, and are unluckily (because of contractors) remodeling, an old farmhouse in Provence near Avignon... {More details and stories about the Provence 3-day adventure are in the book}

May 17, 2011

Day 27 ~ May 17

I have noticed the locals speak quite softly. Parisian voices are more moderated, the women especially, and the lilt in the speech is sing-songy instead of monotone. (You can hear the Americans and Germans before you can see them, and the Italians are the ones shouting across the streets and waving their arms.) Even if Parisians are sharing your table, you can’t hear the conversation. I find it easy then to linger in cafés to write without feeling like I’m intruding. So I often do. This weekend I found a nice quiet café in a very chic section, and enjoyed a lovely hour of it. Enter the American newlyweds. Within minutes they got into a fight because she wanted a boob job and he thought that was shallow. Two French couples got up and moved–one of them thankfully, because they had B.O. I thought maybe I’d get a blog write-up out of it, so I stuck around to listen. Here’s what I learned. One, try not to speak so loudly anymore. Regardless of the topic, it just isn’t feminine. Two, if others move away from me, it’s a sign that either my underarms or my behavior stinks. Three, never ever look to my partner for approval about my own body image, especially in public. I’m not one to promote plastic surgery, but she was asking him for something she couldn’t give herself: Permission to be happy with who she was.  Four, after someone says ‘boob job’ in a café for the eighth time, my ability to not make a joke about my cup being half-full falls off dramatically. So, I quietly paid my bill and took my own boobies back home to work.

May 10, 2011

Day 20 ~ May 10

...early morning before anyone else was up. I set my alarm, grabbed a free bike, and made my way across town...

May 9, 2011

Day 19 ~ May 9

While in London for about 40 hours, I saw some of the usual suspects–Westminster Hall, Buckingham Palace, the River Thames, had fish and chips in a pub with a pint, etc....

May 5, 2011

Day 15 ~ May 5

I got lost. Hopelessly, wonderfully, nowhere in particular-ly lost. I did start out my day with a planned visit to a museum (a later topic), but once I left it I just got wanderlust, for the next eight hours. It sounds frightening, but no, it’s delightful. My friend back home, Benedicte, is from here and it’s still her favorite thing to do in Paris. I can understand why. Every corner I go around has another little strip of charming stores, grand statues, festive cafés, gardens, architecture, flowers or monuments to behold. With no phone, and limited email access, being unplugged is giving me the freedom to go out for these aimless excursions whenever writing hits a wall, or my curiosity gets the best of me. My favorite spots are the really small, short streets that wind together in a jumbled, crooked mess. There, the traffic noise is reduced significantly, the shopkeepers are a bit more friendly and their wares more unique, and cafés are quieter. It’s there that Paris feels more like Paris. In my meandering I ended up on the Champs Elysées yesterday, and within about 5 minutes, I grabbed a bicycle (another later topic) and escaped it. I didn’t come to Paris to see tourists eating fast-food and buying American designer clothing. Let’s just say, it’s not the romantic boulevard it was in Joni Mitchell’s day when she sang about it. However, her other lines from the same song felt very true to me as I sauntered from street to street. “I was a free man in Paris, I felt unfettered and alive. There was nobody calling me up for favors, and no one’s future to decide…”

May 3, 2011

Day 13 ~ May 4

Don’t worry if you trip and fall while touring Paris, because you’ll land on a loaf of bread... {More to come in Bonjour40, the book!}