Saturday, May 31, 2008
Everyone at my house had a shitty day today, and clear across the board it was stress, exhaustion, and high emotion. All three of us ladies shed a tear at one point or another, and so you know what we did? We did what any red-blooded woman would do. We made cupcakes.
Now, they weren't prize-winning. They lacked form and finesse, they were right out of a box, and they kind of stuck in the muffin tins. But they were chocolate, people, and isn't that all that matters at the end of the day?
When the cupcakes reached the frosting coolness, we piled on the couch and watched Juno while it began to storm outside, and you know what? I don't care that I have a bathtub sitting in my living room, a toilet in my bedroom, and a sink in my hallway. I don't care that one entire wall of my bedroom and half of my ceiling has been ripped down. I don't care that my new apartment is an utter shambles, and I will have to use half of it as storage until it's habitable again, because none of that really matters. I am loved, and I have amazing family, and this summer is full of possibility. And when things start to get crazy, there's always Duncan Hines.
o.k. I do care a little that my toilet is in my bedroom. C'mon already people!!!
Friday, May 30, 2008
I just woke up. Not a tossing and turning, and I guess I can't sleep, but an ok, there's the sun and another fresh new day kind of wake up. Except it's three am.
It occurs to me that I seem to be a harbinger. In the last several relationships that I've had, I've been the closest thing that the other person has had to a real, lasting, meaningful adult relationship. I've been their brush with the domestic, and their taste of things like family, and settling down. Even in rather casual encounters, I seem to be the person who makes other people think about getting serious. The thing about this that seems to have ripped me out of my sleeping state is that all of these people have felt, for me, like brief stop-overs. I came close to feeling like I could stay forever once, but then that old restlessness set in again, and soon I began to feel like it too was temporary. I feel, in relationships, that I have to deliver a message, extract some information of my own, and then move on. What if that never, ever goes away?
I have tried most of my adult life to reconcile my bohemian thirst for experience and adventure with my biological impulse to find one solid mate with whom I can settle down and make babies. Now, the vastness of the universe seems to unfurl before me, and the possibilities are incalculable, but I feel like there is one more big piece that needs to click together before I can hope to get this right. Those of you who know me, probably can clearly see what that is, so if you feel inclined to send me a private note with your two cents, you are most welcome.
I've un-learned selfishness in the most masochistic fashion, I really have a firm grasp on compromise, I think I've sorted out fidelity, my grip on reality feels pretty tight now, I know when to hold 'em and when to fold 'em, and I think for sure I know when to walk away and when to run.
Is it that I just now need to know that I can spend several warm summer evenings on a train bound for nowhere, with only myself as company, and that it's still a great ride?
I am never having beer and chicken wings for dinner on a school night again.
Thursday, May 29, 2008
Today is happy with a chance of grinning. Increased sunny outlook with a high of plus positive and zero chance of precipitation. Even if it rains, our guaranteed low is snuggling with a good book and a doggie.
When I grow up, I want a cottage on a lake where I can invite my friends to take care of them for a little while. I want a haven filled with old quilts, a lot of great books, ridiculous board games, fishing equipment, a fire pit, an incredible kitchen, and really comfortable beds. Skinny dipping, and acoustic guitars, and good wine, and arts and crafts with things found in the woods. No power boats, no television, no loud neighbors.
If you came to visit, you would be greeted with great music, and a nice glass of whatever you like. You would unload your bags, and there would be pretty little snacks for grazing. Something would be chilling in the fridge near the dock, and your chair and towel would be set up. I'd have a stack of books and magazines selected with you in mind, and something delicious would be marinating for the grill later.
There would also be chocolate fondue.
After supper, there would be a huge fire, and quiet time counting the stars, and you would be full of peace. The air would be crisp and cool, and I would have extra sweaters if you needed one. They would all smell like lavender.
I'd sing you songs under the stars, and if you knew the words you could join in.
We'd each make a few wishes.
You would sleep better than you have in years, listening to all of the magical sounds that the woods make, and you would wake up with the sun to the smell of coffee and bacon. And loons. The sound of loons makes my heart sing.
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Life is getting a little bit more fun each day!
I'm moving this weekend, and though I have a huge hole in my ceiling, a bathroom under renovation, and an apartment that smells like Raccoon poo, I'm feeling really good about finally having a place to call home. It's a great place, and I should know this because I used to live there! My life is so funny, isn't it?
I've started dating. And a lovely feller who I hung out with coined it best when he referred to it as "Happy Days Style Dating". Holding hands, sharing, milkshakes, and just seeing what different people have to bring to the party. Courting. Testing the waters. Makin' friends.
I'm not SERIOUSLY dating. I mean, let's face it, I don't have a home, and when I do (on Saturday), I won't have any furniture, and well, if you count the renovations, my "HOME" is a big, big mess right now. I don't think it would be nice to invite anyone into it. Do you catch my drift? Once I have somewhere nice to sit, and the raccoon poo has been cleaned out of the walls, and the gaping hole mended in the ceiling, and I have a proper way to deal with private matters, then it's open season. Do you see what I did there? I just realized my crazy apartment is a great analogy for my crazy life. I'm not sure how ripping out the old carpet and replacing it with something new fits, but I think if we put our heads together, we could all come up with something clever.
I seem to be inspiring lots of thoughts of home and children, which is fascinating to me, because those things are probably the furthest from my mind that they have ever been right now. It's amusing what people pick up from you. I am marveling at it all.
I'm also channeling Nina Simone. She is my internal soundtrack right now. I am in a bluesy, jazzy, soulful, funked out, deep, rich, mocha, velvet frame of mind.
Lilac Wine baby...Lilac Wine...
Thursday, May 22, 2008
I was amazed to learn that there are one or two of you out there still willing to read this, even though the fabulous Parisian fantasy has come to an end. Bless your hearts. I did enjoy this entirely self-centered writing experience, so I may continue with this blog, until the novelty wears off once and for all. I promise never to write about dieting.
I have two days to choreograph and polish my first ever solo burlesque number. This prospect is entirely terrifying. I'm trying hard to channel some of the tenacity (and perhaps insanity) that drove me off to Paris by myself, but I fear that without the help of a stiff gin and tonic I may not pull this off.
The number will make it's debut at a fundraising cabaret on Saturday night, and I'm pleased with the concept. It's an Edward Gorey inspired tribute to the silent film era vamp. The music is of course a Lenni Jabour tune with just the right mix of drama and silliness. The trick will be to make the number read as being really tongue-in-cheek, and not like some crazed artsy chick taking herself way too seriously. I think breaking into the cha-cha mid-way through will help.
There's something a bit sadistic too in getting up and doing that in front of people when you have not lifted a finger to exercise in several years. I try to console myself with the idea that the women I am trying to channel would have had very similar bodies. I won't get too hung up on it, because some of you reading this may want to punch me. Let's call it empowering instead, shall we?
Also, there's the idea that perhaps it's better if I curate and cultivate the burlesque numbers rather than participate in them. If it's not my forte, I don't want to look like I'm up there just because I need some of the glory, you know? I have been curious about what will happen if I just go for it though.
I've booked a private studio at work on Saturday, and I have a bag of treats to practice with. Fingers crossed...
(p.s. The title of this entry is because a bottle of marshmallow scented body spray leaked everywhere in my purse, and now only my left earphone works. But my ears smell delicious.)
Sunday, May 11, 2008
Are any of you still reading this?
If you are, this is my very last evening in Paris. I've just returned from a quiet walk up to Sacre Coeur, where I had a look at the city and said goodbye to the Eiffel Tower. I'm trying very hard to keep my chin up right now.
This has been an incredible opportunity to run away from real life for a brief spell, and there are lots of things to deal with when I return to Canadian soil, and lots of decisions that are effected by this experience that I've just had.
I spent the entire day today with the incredibly gracious Lenni Jabour. She took me to the Marche Alesia in her neighbourhood, which was a lively open-air fruit, vegetable, and flower market. It was incredible, and the vendors were all hurling compliments at us. Besides the fact that the produce here is out of this world delicious and fresh, they also like to arrange beautiful samples of the food to entice you to buy. My favourite were the full pineapples will sliced rings resting prettily on the spiky tops, and a female flower vendor who was screeching "Come and see my pretty tulips" at the top of her lungs. Ladies, if you want a delicious treat, and a lovely little ego boost (not that I needed one after the last couple of days here...) head to the Parisian street market nearest you with une jolie amie.
After that we visited her boulangerie of choice and got a little arrangement of patisseries to enjoy at the cafe across the street where we each had un creme. A creme is the Parisian way of ordering a coffee with cream, rather than an espresso, which is what you get when you simply order a cafe. I tried macarons for the first time today. Macarons are delicate little morsels available in several different flavours and happy, lovely colours. They are a blend of almond flour and meringue, with a layer of gooey happiness in the middle. They only make them in Paris, and the boulangeries pride themselves on their good macarons.
After returning the groceries to Lenni's lovely apartment, we strolled through the streets to St. Germain, in the hopes of catching the jazz festival there. We grabbed some crepes and a couple of kir as we made our way through the streets. It was quite a hike, and it was 26 degrees here today. The lovely thing about Paris is that you never grow tired of walking because there is so much to see here. We did a lot of window shopping, which in Paris is aptly named "Window Licking".
The sampling of French Jazz turned out to be a bit of a let down, but the weather was lovely, and the company grand, so we grabbed another kir at the Cafe de Flore, which is legendary. After that we were pooped, so we headed back to Lenni's to relax and then she made an exquisite little supper. (Bless you Lenni for keeping me company all day!!)
After we ate and rested, we met with Lenni's lovely British viola player Caroline at The Canal. It's a lovely Canal, which is of course part of the Seine, and there were groups of young people all lined up along the banks enjoying picnics. The picnic is a phenomenon that we don't appreciate nearly enough back home, and with the summer right around the corner, I think I'm going to make it a new fun thing to enjoy with my darling posse. I crashed hard after my final Parisian Kir, and I think everyone else was tired too, so we called it early.
I had to climb the millions of steps to Montmartre one last time though. I wanted to see the city again by night, and see the Eiffel Tower in all its glory. I didn't wait to see it sparkle again, because the last one was really special, and I'd like to keep it at that until I return.
The photos today weren't taken by me. My camera battery died again, and with only one day left, I didn't want to spend too many Euros on new ones. You'll see pictures of me above with the Mountie who stands guard at Crazy Horse (who says he's grossly underpaid), and at the Cafe de Deux Moulins, which is the cafe in Montmartre where Amelie works in the movie. There is also a great photo of the Moulin de la Galette, which is the only original windmill left in Montmartre. Tomorrow I will get up early to pack and do laundry, and then hit a couple of choice shops here one last time.
What an incredible experience this has been. It's everything I dreamed of and more. I'm so grateful to have had this opportunity, and will always remember my first trip to Paris.
"If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast."
Friday, May 9, 2008
Yesterday was incredibly touristy.
I did an open-top bus tour of half of the city, which was a fairly decent way to get around, but then I felt like I was getting heat stroke. I hopped off near Notre Dame and then took the Metro home. Walking around the city is still the best way to experience it.
I got back here, and showered, and then went to the Crazy Horse show. I had a lovely little supper at a bistro on Avenue George V, and then went to the cabaret, which was absolutely out of this world. I was totally inspired. The venue itself was gorgeous, and the show was everything I dreamed it would be. Any questions about this will be fielded via my personal email. Wink wink, nudge nudge.
After that, I went to the Eiffel Tower and paid the small fare to ride up to the second level and see the entire city by night. The tower sparkled for me not once, but twice, and is truly the most magical thing I have ever seen. Walking along the Seine, watching the tower sparkling, was incredibly romantic. This place, and this experience really does fill me with hope.
Today was the Louvre, which I barely put a dent in before my feet gave out. What a massive, magnificent place. Then the Jardin Des Tuileries, which was a perfectly manicured French garden of huge proportion.
After that, lunch and a pitcher of drinking chocolate at Angelina's
The drinking chocolate was unbelievable. It was the best sex I've ever had served in a teacup with a bowl of cream to add to it if I wish. It was the miracle of life in a tiny pitcher. It was Christian Bale in smooth, silky, velvety drinkable form. The restaurant itself is an exquisite, elegant salon du the with original decor from when it first opened in the 1900's. I wished so much that I could bring my mother there. She would be the perfect travel companion for my next trip. (Um, maybe the second best. No offense mom.) This city would sweep her off her feet, for sure.
After that I returned to Notre Dame to see the inside, and visited a gorgeous outdoor flower market, where I bought petite Lenni a fushia for her little French balcony. She's having me for dinner tonight to meet some of her other Paris friends, but first a kir at the local bistro.
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
Yesterday I visited Musee d'Orsay, which was the realization of a huge dream. Blessedly, it was fairly quiet when I first arrived there, and I was able to explore the Impressionist paintings fairly unscathed. The Toulouse Lautrec room was out of this world. The lights were very dim because they are mostly watercolors and pastels which are easily damaged by harsh light, but they were breathtaking. It made me quite emotional, actually. To see these images that have been so hugely inspirational in my life, in the city where they were painted, while I'm living in the very neighbourhood were they were conceived was just too much. I felt more reverance and humility than any old cathedral could ever conjure. It was an experience I will remember for the rest of my life.
The other tourists seemed to be having a very different artistic experience. It seems that in order to prove to themselves, and their friends that they had taken in culture, they needed to pose in front of each painting, and either look ridiculously goofy, or stoic and pensive while having a photo snapped. Other people were taking photographs of the art itself. I just don't get it. You come to this place to see first hand these exquisite works that have sparked a new movement in art history. You can see every line, and every brush stroke, and the colour is so vivid and alive, and somehow you need to experience that through the lense of a camera? Were we not built with two perfectly lovely lenses of our own to experience the world? Don't we also each have a pretty decent hard drive onto which we can store all of the images we capture? Also, when you position your obnoxious ass in front of a painting trying to shoot your stupid friends who are making the rock and roll sign with their fat, meaty hands, you are in my way. By the way, in case you haven't already realized this, the images above are from the internet. I didn't shoot them in the museum, but I did see the originals there. What I did shoot was the beautiful architecture (d'Orsay used to be a train station) and the view from the roof top terrace, where you can see my neighbourhood and Sacre Coeur.
The Van Gogh paintings were something to behold. I've never been a huge fan of his work, but to see the incredible texture and detail in real life really made my heart sing. The Degas exhibit was lovely, and I also found two artists I'd never heard of who really are incredible. One is Gustave Caillebotte. Check out his Raboteurs de parquet above. The other was in a special exhibition and is an expressionist painter named Lovis Corinth, depicted above in a self-portrait with his wife. That looks like a happy marriage to me!
I was pretty exhausted after d'Orsay, so I sat down at a bistro and had a little lunch and un verre du vin rouge. I also tried foie gras au cannard. If you think too much about the ingredients, it's a bit scary, but it really, really is out of this world. I was very, very happy after that.
I then wandered around St. Germain, which was full of lovely shops. If I had a lot of money, I could spend it beautifully in Paris. I did splurge a little and bought myself a French perfume. I almost walked out of the store right after I entered, because there was a general smell of an overly-scented grandma, but then I saw this tiny little bottle with a purple ribbon. The label said "Violet", which when said en Francais actually has three syllables, and is so pretty! It smelled very sweet and floral to me, but I spritzed some on my wrist, and then headed off. After it had settled, it evolved into this delicious sweet, clean, peppery smell that I couldn't get enough of. My hope is that I can use it for good, not evil, but with power like that you can never be sure which way it will go.
I took some photos of the church at St Germain du Pres. It's ancient, and very pretty.
Last night I went to see my friend Lenni perform at a very popular club called Le Baron. Her show was lovely, but the place was really old, and seedy. It was a bordello many, many years ago, and was then a swinger club in the 70's. Now all the models and hipsters hang there, and they arrived en masse as Lenni was finishing her show. The DJ took over, and then I learned that French people cannot dance to save their lives. I'm also hoping it was a retro night, otherwise I worry about their musical taste. It was interesting to watch these very skinny, 11 foot tall girls who were so very young get plied with liquor and god knows what else by very, very slimy looking men. I wanted to take them out of there and send them home. I think that means I'm getting old. Also, the washroom, which was only a small step above the seriously scary pay per use public stalls on the street had a powder girl! She was honestly put off when I didn't tip her, even though I caught not one, but two men in the stall in the ladies. I think they were trading ties. I really can't be sure.
I shared a cab home with a lovely gal named Nathalie who is Lenni's friend. She lives in Montmartre, and is French Canadian, so she spoke excellent English. It was a very late night.
Today, I woke up at 9:00 and headed out to meet Lenni. I stopped at the Boulangerie for un pain au chocolate (which is French for "this will make you see god") and then hopped on the Metro to Le Bon Marche. After a quick cafe at a bistro we ventured into the very first department store in Paris. What a beautiful place, but so expensive! We then went to an incredible food market, where I stocked up on some French treats to bring home, and we got a picnic which we ate in the park in true French style. I ate a lot of creamy French cheese smeared all over a fresh baguette. Now I know why I didn't bring any pants to wear here.
Next on the agenda was the Camille Claudel exhibit at the Rodin Musem. Gorgeous. You should google Camille Claudel if you don't know who she is. She was a student of Rodin, and in my opinion, her work was far more expressive and evocative than his. The museum used to be Rodin's home, and it was gorgeous, with incredible gardens to wander through, filled with sculpture. I saw "The Thinker" in real life, and that was painful because every tourist who passed through had to have their photo taken sitting at the base of the statue in the same pose. God help me.
(Though, I do still think that he looks like he's taking a complicated shit...)
After the musem, we found another bistro where we each enjoyed un Kir, which is my new big thing. Lenni and I are going to try to figure out how to create kirgaritas this summer.
I'm really not sure where we went after that. I think we were both keen to continue exploring, but we were both so damn tired from the night before. We poked into some more shops, and then plunked ourselves down at ANOTHER bistro for une autre cafe. It was 25 degrees today, and glorious, but definitely sleep inducing.
We had to part ways, and now as I sign off, I'm going to take a nap avant le dinner. I will also have to consult my travel guide because I fear that I will not be anywhere near doing all of the things I wanted to do before I leave here, and I think it's time to hatch a plan.
Look how happy I look on my little French Balcony. Can you even imagine me returning to life in Toronto?
Monday, May 5, 2008
A change of landscape
Is a very good way to escape
The roof tops from six stories high
Breath their heat into November Sky
Could be a ship or a train
Driving, sailing, keeping sane
Wind is blowing through my hair,
Feeling fine in this foreign affair,
Biding and killing my time,
This city's taking me for a ride.
Oh City -
Be my lover!
You and I look good on each other,
I'm a girl on the rebound,
And I am throwing myself at this town .
Oh City -
Be my lover!
You and I could touch each other.
Show me yours and I'll show you mine
We could to have a real good time
I don't speak the language well
And I'm not from here, they can tell
I didn't know the currency was
My reason for coming was just because
And I can't seem to catch my breath,
I'm dizzy and sick just for a sec.
Yellow street lights on wet sidewalks ,
City's soaked in piss or a greasy chicken broth.
But it's timely rain, cause I'm under the weather
And I think chicken soup would make me feel better
City, in your bouillon I want to shower.
Especially when you're hot at rush hour
Your aggressio's infectious
Though your style is awfully pretentious.
Oh City -
Be my lover!
Though I know you've got many others
I'm a girl on the rebound
And I am throwing myself at this town.
Oh City -
Be my lover!
We could spend the night together
Show me yours and I'll show you mine,
We're gonna have us a real good time.
I have come so far to find
That I'm still pursued by my nagging mind.
I carry it like a passport.
Reminding me that I've got to return to the start.
'Hobo', hobos have found,
Is the short word for 'homeward bound',
I cam here to find myself
bBut I could have just stayed back home on the couch
Cause I'm still playing with bored and depressed
I'm just a loner kid killing time at recess.
Be my lover.
It doesn't have to be forever
I'm a girl on the rebound a
And I am throwing myself at this town.
Oh City -
Be my lover!
We could run away together
Shpw me yours, and I'll show you mine.
We're gonna have us a real good time.
Lyrics by The Fabulous Mille Shannon Duncan.
That's about it for tonight, I think.
It's only 6:30, but I had to come home for a breather and a little nap, because I am completement exhausted.
I set my alarm for eight this morning, but apparently I am un peu stupide because it didn't go off. It seems I have finally caught up on sleep though, because I naturally woke up at 9:00 am.
I chose a fabulous little outfit, and then headed off to Les Puces de Saint-Ouen, which is actually not in Paris at all. After what felt like an epic hike through hundreds of stalls where vendors were selling complete and utter crap, I was plunked out onto a little street that was slowly coming to life. It really was antiques heaven, but I needed un cafe, so I was on the hunt for a little place to park my bum.
That's when I met Gaetan. He is officially my first French ami. He was very friendly, and quite out of breath by the time he caught up to me on his roller blades. It turns out he's an interior designer who makes lamps, and was trying to wheel (hahahah) and deal at the marche. He was very friendly. (Oh, I said that already). We enjoyed a nice cafe au lait and some pleasant banter, in his pretty good English, and my pretty bad French. He very kindly gave me his card, in case I was bored while I'm here and needed some company. I visited his website to make sure that the lamps aren't made of human flesh, and found a very nice, understated photo of him, which I think is in no way designed to make women do foolish things (see above). Maman, please do not say "I told you so."
After I sent Gaetan home, I spent several hours at the market. Everything was incredibly expensive, but I bought a metre of some beautiful fabric from the 40's which I will turn into a blouse when I return to Toronto, and a lovely silk dress from the 60's. There were many things that I would have like to buy, but it seems as though I have ridiculously expensive taste.
After Les Puces, I was VERY hungry, and wanted to find just the right bistro to enjoy a little meal at before heading to my next destination. I got incredibly, hopelessly lost. Eventually I came to a sign that said "Paris" which of course was pointing in the opposite direction of where I had been walking for the last 45 mins. The great thing about French men is that they are always eager to help you out, and even though I have NO IDEA what they are saying, they make a lot of big gestures with their arms. Eventually I was able to find both a boulangerie and the metro. Hooray.
I took the metro to the Champs Elysees, where I saw both the Grand and the Petite Palais. I also got to finally see the Seine, which I think will be most perfect at night, so I will return later this week, when I do my Eiffel Tour by night visit.
I then hoofed it to the Arc Du Triumph, and by now was in a great deal of pain, and seriously ravenous. I took a couple of photos, and then plunked myself down at a bistro in plain view of the Arc, where I toasted it with a glass of wine. That particular area of Paris is full of beautiful monuments, but it's also a huge tourist area, and big shopping district for mainstream brand lable stores. Not so much my cup du the.
I have the doors to my little French balcony open, and will now rest my eyes a little before heading out to see what kind of fun I can find this evening.