Tuesday, June 2, 2009


Hello, all: I've decided to start a new blog, since I enjoyed this one so much. It probably won't have as much pastry as this one did, but I hope you'll come visit anyway.

Monday, May 25, 2009

ppps: Things I Will Miss

...you mean, besides everything?

1. People - lots of them - actually walking down the street with baguette in hand, just like in every cliché photo or film of Paris that you've ever seen.

2. The prices of the clothing in a shop window being printed neatly on a discreet card, saving one the trouble of going in and asking the price on a cute pair of orange sailor shorts ("les bermudas"), only to find out that they're 180 euros, global economic crisis or no global economic crisis.

3. The green metal lounge chairs at Tuileries and Luxembourg. Plop yourself in one of these babies with something to drink and a good pair of sunglasses, and you're set for the afternoon.

4. The restraint shown by bartenders when it comes to ice. In a New York restaurant, a tall glass of iced tea typically yields two or three sips of tea, and then you're left with a pile o' ice. At Le Fumoir, in contrast, my bergamon-mint iced tea lasted through my whole meal.

5. The signs in the Métro station letting you know how long till the next train. (And, yes, I am aware that this exists on the L as well, but the L is so dreadful in every other measure, including the length of time till the next train, that this doesn't count.)

6. The little plate of saucisson, or cheese, or olives, that comes with your drink at a café in the early evening.

7. The department stores. I really didn't even buy very much, but wandering through these gorgeous stores and looking at Saarinen tables and bolts of oilcloth and funky modern lamps and crazy café society hats and fab bags (one of which I am still thinking of, wistfully) and thin leather gloves and Missoni towels and Kenzo bedspreads.... Oh, mama. And then, of course, heading to the astonishing gourmet wing of each of these shops, and spending way too much money on treats.

8. The sky staying light till 10 pm.

9. Being called "madame," in that way the French have, where, for example, when you look at a salesperson, instead of saying "Yes?" questioningly, they state "Madame" decisively, which somehow to me implies, "I am absolutely going to solve whatever issue you have at this moment, even if it's just ensuring that there is a croissant in your near future."

10. Fresh butter, non-pasteurized cheese, chicken that tastes like chicken, croissants, yogurt from Monoprix with acacia honey from G. Detou, chocolate-covered pralined almonds from Les Chocolats Rive Gauche, eating whatever I damn well want to, calories and arteries and bathing suit season be damned.

11. Seeing the Seine every day.

Clearly, I could go on, but it's too, too tragic.

pps: Things I Won't Miss

1. People who won't get out of the friggin way, and instead stand at the top of escalators, in the middle of the sidewalk, in the doorway of a shop, in the entrance of the Métro trains, and who won't move, even when they have clearly seen you, even when they're looking right at you, until you put on your mean face and say, "Excusez moi," in a peevish tone.

2. The trifecta of noise in my apartment: the battalions of screaming kids in the playground, the six-days-a-week apartment renovation below me, and the clompiest upstairs neighbors in the entire world. Seriously. I put on my noise-reducing headphones a few times, just so I could relax and read without feeling like a cartoon character who's being bounced up and down in bed by some insane pounding noise.

3. Being confronted on a daily basis with the weakness of the dollar (thanks, George W.).

{sound of either clock ticking, Jeopardy tune playing, or crickets chirping}

I can't think of anything else.

ps: Things I Am Looking Forward to

I'll start with this category, in the hopes that it will cheer me up.

1. Lots of spicy food

2. A slice. Then another.

3. People who put a little pep into it.

4. Extreme air-conditioning.

5. People who speak my language, in every sense of the phrase.

6. Non-dubbed American TV shows.

7. Eyebrows that don't raise at the drop of a hat.

8. Getting back onto some kind of reasonable diet that doesn't involve chocolate before noon.

9. Speaking of that: much less dairy, much less bread, much less sugar. A lot more vegetables (and I'm not talking half-butter, half-potato puree), and shopping expeditions to Whole Foods.

10. Personal space.


OK, I'm back, sitting at the kitchen table, with my 25 days behind me (and god only knows ahead, cf. "jour no. 21"), listening to moody Chet Baker play his moody trumpet, and being very moody indeed.

Actually, I'm moodier than I'd expected. To be honest, I was expecting to enjoy my time in Paris, maybe do a little reflecting on my life and my future, eat some yummy food, and then come back home, ready for whatever's next.

Instead, Paris slowly, over the course of my 25 days, got completely under my skin. In addition to the sheer pleasure the city offers, I also liked the challenge of speaking French (and feeling like I was improving), and I really liked my blog. It gave me a good focus on my experience, and it made me appreciate what each day gave up to me. I'm going to miss it! {Merci beaucoup for your clicks and comments.}

And of course, Paris also represents something, something that I, in my aimless state, am very susceptible to: it represents a life lived with meaning, in beauty, a life lived richly.

Unwisely, on the plane I chose to watch "Revolutionary Road," a movie that I'd initially avoided, but then became curious about as I heard the backlash to its negative reception, and even more curious after I saw the well-received "Reader," which I deeply loathed. I figured, maybe I'd just got my Kate Winslet movies crossed.

At any rate, as many of you know, the plot point for "RR" is that its protagonist (Kate Winslet) wants to escape her typical 1950s suburban life and move her husband (Leonardo DiCaprio) and children to Paris - "to live," as she puts it. Paris is the Shangri-La, the city on a hill, the antidote to the regular-old, garden-variety, 40-hours-a-week life that pretty much all of us figured we were going to avoid, and which pretty much all of us now have - some of us contentedly, god bless you, and some of us, not so much.

Of course (and I really don't think this is giving away anything, since it was all quite clear from minute one), the new life in Paris never happens, and much tragedy ensues.


{last pic: painfully appropriate detail from Rodin's "Porte de l'Enfer" at Musée d'Orsay}

a few things I forgot to mention:

There are actual windmills in Montmartre.

The guy at the concert at Châtelet who, right as the conductor took his place for the second encore, shouted out "Chicago!"

The fact that the next day, Le Fumoir's music mix included Tony Bennett singing "Chicago," and on my last night, Jean Julien was playing Sinatra singing you guessed it (Jean Julien confessed that it's his dream to be married in Vegas; this to me is inexplicable, in the same way that French humor is inexplicable).

This incredible Hair by Kenneth holdout at Garnier.

Yet another potentially irresistible set of wheels.

I'm risking my foodie street cred, but I did want to tell you that part of the reason I so loved Eric Kayser's chocolate mini financiers is that they reminded me of chocolate Dunkin' Munchkins.

Our collective crush on Jean Philippe, the waiter at Le Verre Volé.

The Parisian obsession with Obama.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

jour no. 25 - enfin

Well, I'm packed (though still worried if I can manage all this luggage; I may collapse and call it quits on my three-block walk to the Air France bus stop), the laundry is running, I'm drinking my last cup of tea, and Elton John is singing "Rocket Man."

Clearly, there's some serious melancholy going on here.

I'm not going to wrap this blog up yet, however, as I feel I need to do some sort of summation. So there will be at least three more posts (maybe today, if the CDG wifi cooperates): What I'm Looking Forward to; What I'm Not Going to Miss; and What I Am Going to Miss, Deeply and Truly.

{top photo: a rose from Amy's lovely garden}