May. 31st, 2003 12:04 am
darcydodo: (bird)
I swear, I have never been hit on so many times in my life. Majorly persistent guy today while I was eating lunch; I eventually tried resorting to "je préfère les femmes," but this had very little effect either. He was a boxer, originally from Africa — what's next to South Africa? Anyway, I think I may make it a rule simply to ignore any man who addresses me unless he's with a woman or a child. At least until I know enough French to politely give someone the brush-off and make it clear I mean it! Maybe I should just start wearing my glasses... and not shave my legs... and pick my nose.... On the bright side, it gave me a very good chance to practice my French.

Page and I tried to go to a concert tonight, but it ended up being 20 euros, not 9 (as we had thought), so that was a no-go. Wandered along the Champs-Elysées to the Arc de Triomphe, instead.

Also took the placement test for the Alliance Française today; I aced the level II test and absolutely bombed the level III test. And fun and hijinx with credit cards. Yippee.
darcydodo: (Default)
I meant to type this up last night, so I'm a day late, I guess. I fell asleep instead. Therefore: read it as though written on May 29, and I'll do another entry for today's stuff.

Hmm. Today. I missed breakfast at the hostel because I set my alarm for 9, forgetting breakfast only goes unti 9:15. Actually, I forgot about breakfast entirely. Here's hoping I figure things out for tomorrow....

Dinner last night was crêpes and (yummy) cider; lunch today was cheese and bread from neighboring shops on the Ile de Saint-Louis. There was also ice cream from Berthillon figuring into the equation there. I now know why all the guide books name it the best ice cream around. I may never eat cassis sorbet anywhere else again.

Music is peculiarly abundant in Paris. Today, as I was wandering across the bridge between the two island, I encountered a man playing the soprano sax. And he was really good. The funniest thing, though, was his accompaniment. Not a tape deck — oh no. In Paris, that's apparently reserved for train cars. No, he had a young man accompanying him on piano, because they'd dragged an old upright into the middle of the bridge.

I think I'll recap the rest of yesterday before I continue with today's activities. After the crêpes, I decided to wander around. (Oh, right, before that: roomate at hostel. Nice, American, named Page, from N. Carolina, in law school in D.C., will be in Oxford doing a course later this summer.) Anyway, I walked for a ways before stumbling on the Pitié Salpêtrière. There was a strike; it was closed. Only in France do hospitals close for strikes. But the gate was open, and I wandered through. Very nice gardens (for a hospital). The problem was, when I left the hospital, I was something approximating lost. Not so bad, I had a map, but what made in a problem was that I was wearing new sandals. Sandals not made to be walked long distances in (at least not yet). Anyway, walking back along the Seine was lovely; there were numerous groups of students picnicking, and many of them had candles out on their blankets, and it was all very picturesque. Later, I watched a juggler on the same bridge where the saxophonist was today.

So anyway, today I met up with Anna, which was great fun. We wandered around, and then a friend of hers joined us. I'd never met anyone before who works at a strip club.... We spent most the afternoon lazing around the same memorial park I found on my first day. We also sat on what I'mcoming to think of as the Bridge of Entertainment (can you guess which one that is?) for a while and watched some kids breakdancing. It turns out that Anna, having now lived in Chicago for 2.5 years, knows a good deal about the different styles and moves. ([ profile] leech, I think Jon Q. was at least as good as most of the kids there.)

I ate dinner at a Persian restaurant which Anna recommended. Goodfood, but nothing very different from the Persian restaurants in Westwood, IMO. I engaged in some discussion with the couple at the table next to me ("You know this is an Iranian restaurant, right?" "Yeah, and?" "But you're American!" "Yeah, and?"), but really they were very nice. There was some discussion in English, some in French, and on the whole I think I did relatively well. The restaurant had Tavel, too; another good thing. Just as I was finishing, a guy came through selling flowers, and the couple bought one for me. They wouldn't let me say no, so after a while I stopped trying to and was gracious instead. A rose and an orchid. Nice.

OK, that's all for pseudo-today; next entry: real today
darcydodo: (Default)
Flying over the pole. Hmm. Possibly this part of the entry won't be as long as I had anticipated, because it's a theme that rather precludes variation. Ice. White, turquoise, and black. Snow and rocks, which from the air are powdered tracings of black and brown and vast pools of pure white. Puddles of cream, perhaps, or sugar that spilled into a hole and filled it. (Ooh, hot sun, just escaped from some clouds.) I'll go with the cream analogy, I think, because the white is so pure, solid, and thick. Given the decent amounts of cloud-cover in certain areas, this time, the snow was relegated to the land and the ice to the sea (glaciers, but they look so flat from high up, white crusts floating on a black expanse); but if I had been able to see through the clouds for the entire time, there would have been caves of ice that cast their shadows in color, and frozen rivers meandering their dark paths through otherwise unspotted snow. The first time I saw that, I was in love with someone unobtainable (OK, I can censor myself somewhat, here!), and it inspired fragments of what would probably have been, for the most part, godawful poetry. But since then it's just been an unchanging moment of beauty on which I know I can rely, if the time of day is right. "In Xanadu did Kublai Khan," indeed. My pleasure domes and caves of ice are in Greenland.

Of interest to no one but myself and [ profile] girlwithjournal, I got a-hold of Anna on the phone and will see her tomorrow or the day after.

This entry now spans nearly three hand-written pages. I think it must be dangerous to put a pen in my hand; gross amounts of verbiage will ensue. By contrast, if I tried limiting myself to French, very little at all would get written, and of that, not much would be worth reading. I just don't have the vocabulary. Or the style or the grammar, for that matter. Time enough for improvements there, I suppose.

I can hear music. Live or issuing from a café, I can't tell. I recognized the Seine when I reached it. That was a very nice feeling.

I just managed to decipher the inscription on the wall of the park (the font's odd, OK?); I'm assuming it's dedicatory:

(Bracketed by 1940 and 1945:)


Music advisory update: must be live, there was a poorly rendered "happy birthday" a minute or so ago.

Must... stop... writing....
darcydodo: (Default)
May be finished with an edit later (depending on internet time...)

I decided to try writing this entry by hand, first, so as to save time when it comes to typing it in. This means that I'm currently lying on the grass in a little park a stone's throw from Notre Dame. I can see a sliver of the cathedral between the leaves of the tree above me and the hedge that surrounds the park, when I look up. There are people lying and sitting all around the edge of the grass, most of them fairly young (except for the families, I'd say primarily between 25 and 35). Rsoes, michaelmas daisies, random green things, and two small English boys who are being terribly naughty and completely disregarding their parents. Actually, not naughty, just rambunctious.

When I first left the airport, it really felt as though I were back in England. The trees and hedgerows looked right, and the signs were vaguely the right shape. (Ooh. Really fat pigeons are now waddling along the path,looking remarkably like mourning doves. Or ring-necked doves. Or something.)

So far, nobody's tried talking to me in English unless I specifically start the conversation in English, so I count this as something of a triumph. Not that I've exchanged many words with anyone in the first place.

Right, I wanted to write about the plane journey, I guess. Nice easy check-in in L.A. (which I think I deserved, given the whole ticket hassle), since who flies to S.F. from the United Int'l terminal? OK, a few people, but there was no queue at all; most people weren't getting on the flight down south. Changing planes at SFO was highly amusing, because as soon as I approached the area that claimed to be the international terminal, I and another passenger got ushered aside, our passports and tickets checked, and then led through what was essentially a back entrance out of the airport. You know the type: concrete stairs and all. Turns out there was a tiny little room down there where we and a few others waited for a bus to take us over to the real international terminal.

During the flight I sat next to a woman named Nadine who was French but had been living in Santa Clara for about 12 years. She was going "home" for a few days (to somewhere near Avignon) because her grandmother had died. I watched Pipe Dreams (amusing but nothing high-quality), Evelyn (very well done, made me cry, and now I've got "The Parting Glass" stuck in my head; serves me right for knowing too many folk songs), and Two Weeks Notice (very funny, despite the reviews, plus Sandra Bullock's hot, though less so than she used to be; Hugh Grant is very pretty and does absolutely nothing for me). Don't you like my movie review style, [ profile] girlwithjournal? Clearly I should write for you next year. :) The rest of the flight I read Anselm's book. It's being fun, per expectations.

(TBC... don't want to overrun lj's entry space.)


darcydodo: (Default)

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