Thursday, January 20, 2011

I Was Asked A Couple Of Questions

A friend of a friend has been getting the pictures that I have been sending via email to a group of friends and acquaintances; my friend has been forwarding those pictures to her friend, and her friend contacted me via email and posed three questions.

They were: “I'm also curious as to how you are enjoying your extended stay. Any advice for someone considering staying for over a month? How did you go about finding a place to stay?”

And here is what I answered.

Of course in this post I have embellished and edited what I said in the email.


I am enjoying the seemingly endless nature of four months as compared to a few weeks. Having said that, I will be glad to get back to the US. There are too many people, places and things that are important to me at home for me be totally comfortable in being away from them for as long as I am in the process of having been gone.

The only advice I have should be pretty useful.

I always bring way too many clothes, and I did it again. It seemed to me that four months just implied two suitcases. How could one reside in the City of Lights for four months with only one suit case?

So I filled two suit cases.

That was just about as stupid as anything I have ever done. Stupid, by the way, is my strong suit.

I know these things that I am about to list, but I always either forget them, or convince myself that I must be wrong.

You need to know these two guideposts.

Translate the following information to be applicable to a woman. I have written the information presented as if I were talking to myself. Here is that information.

You won't wear a suit; you always plan to do so, want to do so, and even did so - once; and it was just stupid.

You don't need to take a month's supply of underwear. Thierry's apartments all have washer dryers.

There will be more more about Thierry a little later.

One dress shirt is plenty. They go great with Jeans, and dress one up just a little. Of course, that is seldom needed.

Paris is full of Netoyers so one shirt can go to the cleaners, if it ever is actually worn.

A pair of good gray wool flannel slacks is really compact and provides the upgrade from jeans that is almost never required or desired. I always wear my Navy blazer on the plane, so I have a coat if I feel the need to get carried away. So if I bring the grey flannels, I am ready for the yacht club; or Brasserie Lipp.

The problem with the uplift provided by the flannel pants and the blazer is that you need to bring dress shoes, and shoes take an amazing amount of space.

But you can stuff them with stuff – like socks - so maybe that’s ok.

A bunch of other nice but casual shirts that you always feel the need to bring will remain hanging unworn in the closet for the trip’s duration and then go back across the Atlantic to your closet in Seattle where they also will remain unworn. Why do you feel the need to add their bulk to your already challenged luggage?

Who knows.


The summertime uniform for me in Paris is tee shirt and jeans and a travel vest.

The wintertime uniform is (not so cold) tee shirt and cotton sweater and the multi pocketed, multi zippered campaign coat. The wintertime uniform (really cold) is a Smart Wool jersey and a St James wool sweater and - maybe the raincoat with the wool zip-in; or, more probably, the multi-everything coat is still fine for the outer garment. Some really good over-the-ears wool hat is mandatory. It gets colder than a bitch in Paris in the winter.

So why did you bring all those other shirts? For that matter, since you have a perfectly good washer/dryer in your apartment, why did you bring a dozen tee shirts. Nobody knows you here, so they won't notice that there is a not much variety in your wardrobe. Clean is important, and the washer/dryers do that for you. Variety is completely lost on the populace of Paris. And even if you bring it (variety) you won't use it. You'll just drag it around in you roller bags and across the Atlantic to no apparent purpose.


I have rented the last three trips from a guy who is the best landlord in Paris.

His name is Thierry.

Thierry believes that the rental price ought to include everything, including someone who will help you out when you need help – I have heard him call for a taxi for clients who speak zero French; I have told him I have a light that is going out in the bathroom, and he has showed up within hours to fix it; I have had him come back with just the right device to keep the shutters from flapping in the wind after I asked him if there were such an apparatus; I have attended his invitational teas for some of his clients and learned a lot more about Paris, about Thierry and about his love of the United States: he hikes in Colorado and Christmases in New York, and has been a lot of other places in the US.

As long as one of his vocations is landlord – he also teaches architecture and is a musician – I will be one of his clients.

The real advantage of that is that I will also be his friend.

His web site is at

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