Thursday, September 13, 2007


My internet cable comes tomorrow and then there will be no hesitation about "Should I start a blog entry only to not be able to publish?" I've also been perplexed about how to start it, how to tell this, what to say and yet be able to include enough and not too much that I could post it on the family-friendly site, too (which I haven't figured out yet so fret not).

I started with this on Tuesday night:

The French invasion

of big bellied men, men in kilts with pheasant feathers in their caps, and a small, sleepy girl

Rugby World Cup 2007 or "Coupe du Monde de Rugby 2007" has invaded Paris.

My biggest suitcase weighed in at 70lbs, and I paid $50 for the 20 extra lbs. Not bad, as I was having nightmares about something closer to $500 and having to fling it open and start just tossing random clothes - so neatly, tightly rolled - to my parents, standing aghast in the middle of the check-in at the airport.

From there was a 52lb, a very heavy carry-on, and a laptop/backpack contraption.

Mom and dad drove me down and waited at the nearest corner to the security lines to wave me through all the way. Through the 100+ people removing shoes and checking boarding passes. The flight was harmless with a lucky viewing of " "Away From Her" (apropos with things happening in my family and discussions between relatives of the impending old age). A bit of sleepy-time drugs and I was off to cramped wonderland.

Of course, I could go on and on about the people on the flight. But I'll keep that to myself for now. Details not so important in the scope of things.

The transition from airplane to apartment went slowly as I adjusted to being awake and foreign. If I can come away with one thing from any of this, it's that the French are not at all in any way rude to foreigners. That is, if the foreigner is not rude to them. I try a bit of French all the time - at the get-go - and it might get me in trouble (the person thinks I speak more than I actually do and continues the rapid French conversation) or giggles ("non, c'est bouteille no c'est pas BOAT"). But everyone seems a lot more receptive to a try than an ignorant "you must speak English, my language, because it is the language of my country and the WORLD!"

So, I was able to use a cell phone in the airport instead of having to buy a 20E phone card offered by the rip-off currency exchange folks. And I called my new landlord to let him know I was on my way. A few snaps from the back seat of the cab of the way in - the futbol stadium which announced the Rugby Cup, me following my map and making brief chat with the cabbie (again, no, not rude, just not bothering to struggle to carry on conversation with a girl who can't speak well anyway and he knows no English).

The landlord, Fabien, who is about my age who is an owner of an art gallery and a dealer in art, a bit of a scruffy 8 o'clock shadow, all black clothes and flat, fashionable, black Addidas. He's leaning over the balcony way up to wave to me. As I get all the suitcases out, he opens the door and helps me in. Jetlagged, sleepy, overwhelmed. Process process whirrr whirrr goes the brain.

So far I count one lie. It is not on the 5th floor, but perhaps the 6th floor with 2 flights between each floor in a tight, narrow, turning staircase - not the wide, ample, slow, big-footed marble I had dreamed when thinking how to get the suitcases up.

He helps me get each bag up the stairs and I am out of breath at the top many times -- despite my days in the gym. His English is perfect as he had a girlfriend who was from Seattle who went to school in Emory, and he does business in NYC. So, I barely speak French which is good because my hair is matted, my face shiny, my teeth scruffy, and my brain still sleep-drugged.

The apartment is exactly how I imagined it from all the photos - except better. It's real. And it's still in rehab, still being converted, still so many things Fabien wants to do and I'd like to add. I'm rather happy he's a welcoming type and is interested in working with me on it and I completely understand that it's going to last beyond my years so it needs to be an investment.

Our conversation flowed from closets to the balcony to the new sink to the water heater to how the stove works to an art opening in his gallery next week to me getting a cell phone to him buying an antique round table to the futon and new sheets to towels and a shower to me brushing my teeth while he cleaned out the closets.

I think it's a perfect fit and I don't think he wants anything in return but someone to actually take care of it - polish the wood when needed, keep clean to keep pests out, water the plants to keep them alive.

ravioles de cepes au coulis de crustaces [what I had for dinner]

But things have gone and moved so rapidly since then. There are still kilts all over this area and big bellied beer drinkers at noon with crazy cock-eyed accents.

Wednesday I walked around a bit in the morning - trying to find a way to eat and drink without sitting down isn't easy. I haven't got a working coffee press yet (the pressure coffee maker furnished with the apartment is missing its handle - broken by the previous tenant / friend of the landlord's) and I can't seem to find a Starbucks -- kidding!! I mean, I would like to keep on with my regular fast pace, grab a coffee and keep going, but I guess this city is telling me to slow the fuck down, sit down, drink your espresso in the sun, etc.. I think I'll buy some oven mitts and try to make this one work though. (If anyone has better instructions than this, let me know!) Coffee before leaving the apartment building just makes more sense to me.

I grabbed a veggie sandwich on fabulous baguette for lunch y'day though it was a tad weird - I think there were like steamed noodles put on it or something. Anyway. Everything I could think I'd need is just outside the apartment - either 1/2 a block away or a bit of a hike (Rue de Lepic) so I won't be going without in anyway.

Then, at 2pm y'day Wilfried came by. I was all nerves when we first met up and we were deciding where to go (silly bottoms - you decide; no, you decide). But soon we were off and about hiking through the gentrified 18th Montmartre. Apparently the cafe where Amelie worked is right on rue Lepic and I hadn't even known! I have a list a mile long of places he recommended and/or pointed out from the swingers club Le Sultana to the lesbian cabaret Chez Moune to L'Art de Rien small gallery to the bdsm shops like Demonia (mainstream) and Phylea (boutique owned by a perfectly charming and biting man).

We ended our 8-hour hang-out at one of his favorite restaurants, talking over wine (and my coughing - man, Madison has spoiled me and my non-smoking lungs!) about the philosophy behind bottoming and the similar characteristics between tops and bottoms, slaves and masters, etc.. Of course, there was also talk about who we are, where we've come from, what we've done, but I am still jet-lagged and not quite aware of where I am or who I am or what I want yet. It makes me a good listening partner right now. Soon I'll come out of the closet and start conversing like a regular person.

So, anyway. There you go for now. You know more than my own family does.

Photos from way back to last month to yesterday will have to wait until I have some more time. Maybe I order in a pizza tonight, buy a nice bottle of wine and use the most of this little hotspot I've found in the apartment.

But first, off to open a bank account and fill it with loan money. Then, to figure out a cell phone!

Oh, and my aunt called it a "mouth organ." I imagine my grandpa called it that, too, but I'm not sure I could. Harp doesn't sound right either. Someone's gotta know a hobo who knows a good name.



Monster said...

Uhm, I guess you didn't see where I mentioned that calling it a harp was REQUIRED.


Glad you're safe and somewhat sound.

lola said...

I don't play by the rules so well.. Safe - uber. Sound - just don't ask how I "feel" these days.

a said...

This sounds like a lovely beginning. Good luck with everything. I don't know... somehow I imagine this as step one in you conquering the world in some way, even though I can't put my finger on why that phrase comes to mind when I think about it.

noman said...

So glad you're safe and sound and able to get your bearings. Sounds like your kind of neighborhood. What an adventure!

I think mouth organ is the original name for the instrument. But now it's like the difference between a violin and a fiddle - it's called a harmonica if you play Red River Valley, but a harp if you play Stormy Monday.