Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Loose Ends For Starters

I mentioned yesterday that I arose in Seattle at a quarter to four on the 30th. There was a point to that information, but I got off on the lady and the baby and the security experience and had to decide that common sense required cutting off the whole day's post with my egress from security and the young woman and the baby in captivity, unless they gave up their fluids and gels.

The point to the information about my time of arising was that, even though my Business Class seat got upgraded to First I wasn't able to sleep very much. I saw Robin Hood and the Karate kid, though.

So by the time I had gotten to the apartment it was about half past eight in the morning of 1 October local time – half past eleven at night the day after my departure from Seattle. So I had gone about 21 or so hours without sleeping. And from previous experience I knew that the jet lag kiss of death was to "take a little nap" after arriving. After arriving, I have learned, one needs to keep doing things until 8 or 9 in the evening of arrival day. If that is done one can go to sleep at a statistically similar bedtime to that which one usually practices, sleep through the night, even sleep late perhaps, and be, after the harrowing experience of no sleep for 30 or more hours, more or less in tune with the local clock.

And I have developed a regimen and routine in support of that arrival day requirement.

So after I got into the apartment (I had forgotten that it was on the third – American – floor and that there was no elevator; I only use apartment elevators to enter and exit, getting my baggage to the apartment and from the apartment; otherwise I use the stairs as part of a Paris physical fitness program to replace that of biking and lifting weights when in the US; the elevator's lack required that I take two very heavy Hartmann rollers, a very heavy Hartmann satchel and a very heavy Targus backpack to the apartment in the clouds; when I had completed that activity I was soaking wet, breathing somewhat more deeply than normal and experiencing an out of body level heart beat; any doubt about my heart health was allayed that day) I took one of my cameras and headed for the Luxembourg Gardens.

The regimen and routine always start in the Luxembourg Gardens. There are always pictures to be captured and the Garden is always a great place to walk. It is just over two kilometers around. Walking two kilometers, stopping to take pictures can be a stimulating endeavor; it takes one's mind off the fact that one is experiencing a grinding sense of ultimate decline toward some very personal form of oblivion; and it takes time; and time taken is time off the clock as it creeps its way toward bedtime.

Another desirable feature of the Gardens is that one of its gates feeds onto rue de Fleurus. Rue de Fleurus passes a number of interesting or personally significant places. For example, it passes the one time home of Gertrude Stein on 27 rue de Fleurus. I have absolutely no interest in Gertrude Stein but Hemingway used to hang out there and he wrote about it in A Moveable Feast, and A Moveable Feast is a sort of touchstone document for me, so 27 rue de Fleurus has some significance for me. Rue de Fleurus also passes a shambles of a Bricolagerie run by two old men. In my first few visits to Paris when I needed some piece of hardware or plumbing that I had no idea where to get I was always able to get it there. Rue de Fleurus also passes Alliance Francaise de Paris. Passing Alliance Francaise de Paris always reminds me of my real lack of commitment, in spite of great and gravidly theatrical posturing, of my ever doing anything to learn any more French than is necessary to order a glass of wine. If I were serious I would just walk into the Alliance and turn myself in, requesting not to be released until I had become fluent.

But rue de Fleurus has one really major characteristic that is especially dear to me. It ultimately intersects with rue de Rennes. Once on rue de Rennes, having taken a right turn off rue de Fleurus, if one goes a certain distance, one comes to Café du Metro. And Café du Metro has onion soup that is only topped in my experience by that on offer at La Petite Chaise. Onion soup, some bread and a carafe of wine can begin to put life back into one's body, allaying to some degree the grinding of the long out of control clock. And it also uses some of the time on that clock as one stays awake until bedtime.

So after the great baggage lift that is what I did. I circumnavigated the Luxembourg Gardens and had onion soup at Café du Metro.

But I still had time to fill.

So I went back to the apartment and tested the hypothesis proffered by Thierry, my landlord, that all I had to do to gain access to the internet was to unplug the Ethernet cable from his computer (the other end was inserted in a modem from Orange) and plug it into my computer. I had never known acquiring internet access in a place other than my office to be anything but a harrowing experience. But in the case being discussed it worked. No outbound email, of course, but that's a little much to expect. So some time passed. And I was still awake.

As I was doing things technical I looked occasionally out my window. Three floors below beckoning to me was an old friend. It was the Bistro Mazarine where on various times in Paris I have had a quart de vin and watched Parisians and time pass.

So I went to Bistro Mazarine. And time and Parisains passed, and I slowly drank my quart de rosé. And my waiter even offered me some chips.

And then, miraculously it had become about seven in the evening. I could now complete the regimen and call it a day – a long, long day.

But the final act of that regimen, the final act of that long, long day deserves more respect than the calling of it "the completion of the regimen".

And that more respect is due to the fact that the close of day exercise that I have adopted is to go to City Crepes on rue de Seine for dinner. And I go to that place in the face of a personally known hoard of alternatives, even a nearby also favorite creperie, because City Crepes just "feels right" at the end of that first night. It has "felt right" since that dark first night on a previous trip when I was far enough away from the 6iem - I was living on rue de Grenelle - that I needed to take the metro to get to City Crepes (although I got off before I would normally get off so that I could walk through the Tuilleries Gardens, and in the process of so walking I turned once back toward the Arch de Triomphe and saw the carousel beautiful beyond belief, cloaked as it was in the blue lights that signify the European Union). What I had that night has become the tradition: a "Wall street" (a galette with lox, cream cheese and spinach) a quart de rosé, a salade de tomate and a crepe flambé with grand marnier sans sucre. That dinner pretty well greases the skids to the proximately subsequent act of reclaiming some lost sleep and of synchronizing my personal clock with that more cosmic one of Paris.

The point to all of this has been to explain why, in the face of an aggressively optimistic mission statement for this blog, not much has so far happened.

I have just been synchronizing.

We will see if anything additional to the stillborn 6000 words of my new novel begin to happen. Every day is a new one, I have discovered.

1 comment:

  1. Nice description,
    Have ever visited Copenhagen, or other European capitals?