Malmaison

Have my blogs become too mundane? No more sitting on the edge of your seat wondering what she is doing now – in Paris? Tout seul (all alone)?

I am still trying to find a routine in Paris. Although, now that I write that I wonder why? When have I ever really had a routine that I stuck to? Routines bore me. SQUIRREL!

Time continues to challenge me. It’s now 10:30 pm on Friday  and I wonder how did it get so late? For one thing, the sun doesn’t set here until 9:30. So my brain/body gets confused – sun sets in CA about 8:15. That gives me an hour of confusion. And then, of course, when there isn’t a routine, time just … what does it do? I think it exists in a room next door to me. And every now and then, I open that door and peek in and check on it. Work expands to fill the time allotted. In this case, when the concept of time is only attached to a few appointments here and there, everything I do floats about in space without a temporal perspective, looking for a place to settle.

Speaking of appointments – the word here is rendez-vous. And of course, that has a different meaning over the pond. (Can you use the term over the pond for between US and France? Or is that a purely US/UK reference?) (Wikipedia says the pond refers to the Atlantic Ocean, so yes, it works)So I have found it a difficult word to use (Rendez-vous, not pond.) – my gut reaction is that I don’t mean to have a rendez-vous with this or that person! Really! Today I was told that “that kind” of rendez-vous here is called a rendez-vous gallant. OK. That helps. The appointment with the doc is not a rendez-vous gallant!

2015-05-21 11.07.06 The trip to Chateau Malmaison 2015-05-21 10.08.19 - Copywas wonderful. It’s a beautiful house and they have restored it quite well. Somehow they were able to round up much of the original furniture. And once again I found floors with the black and white tile exactly like I put in my kitchen a couple of months ago.2015-05-21 10.24.25 Little did I know I was being French with that 2015-05-21 10.33.44selection.

2015-05-21 10.36.43-1Napoleon had a beautiful library with an intricately painted celling…. 2015-05-21 10.27.44Large too! And it was a rush job. Painted in full in ten days. 10 days! They must have had several painters all working simultaneously for 24/7. But when the Emperor speaks…

There was also a special exhibit upstairs on America and Bonaparte.  His brother moved there. And Napoleon asked to be able to go there after he was dethroned. He never got the approval – I couldn’t tell if it was the US that said no or the English. Napoleon wrote a letter to George the Prince Regent about his treatment. It was very honorable, I was impressed with his style. And I guess George was too because he said something about it being classy (not his words exactly) and that Louis Phillipe (I think it was that King but maybe it was another Louis) never wrote anything like it.

2015-05-21 10.52.11-1And a map of the US at the time.  For those familiar with Minnesota, Fort Snelling is shown on the map.  I was born less than 20 miles from there.

 

After the visit inside – and I seemed to have timed it right between several large tour buses – I walked through the gardens. 2015-05-21 11.14.27It was actually a large park. In some places it reminded me of the park behind Buckingham Palace. You felt truly out in the woods. I took some time to sit and meditate and enjoy the view and the sounds of nature.

On the return, I transferred busses at the station La Defense. This is the business area just on the other side of the Seine. It’s where all the major businesses have their headquarters. And they have a big shopping mall. And yes, it is big. I thought So Ouest was big. This one is truly US size and style. I found Sephora and was able to exchange a lipstick (got the wrong color) without problems and in French even.

It was such a beautiful day that I had a late lunch outside at the Marche. The small cafes around the Marche space put out tables and chairs. The waiter assumed I wanted my meat “medium.” And I did. And I appreciated him after the waitress at the café by the Arc de Triomphe (Etoile as it is called here) who looked at me and said “well done.” She was anticipating all my choices as a stereotypical American. We don’t meet there anymore. Ha.

More French conversations today, starting with the wife of Albert, Victorie. She’s not what I expected. But then I am not sure what I expected. Blonde. Blue eyes. Talks a mile a minute. Very extroverted. And laughs a lot. We talked over lunch for 2 hours. They’d be interesting to see together because he also talks a lot. But I think that is the attorney coming out; he doesn’t strike me as extroverted. I think they are a cute couple. They would either be embarrassed by that comment or laugh at the silly American.

It’s always hard to keep up with a new French conversation – I think part of it is learning that individual’s rhythm of speaking. And their vocabulary. And just getting to know them and having a better ability to anticipate the flow. At first, like today, I just tried to keep up. And with someone who talks quickly, that’s difficult. She – and everyone – says stop me if you don’t understand. But it isn’t that easy. I don’t simultaneously translate yet. Or process. At some point, I hope to be processing the words automatically and understand without translating because the French makes sense. I am not there yet (to put it mildly). I find I am about 2-3 seconds behind. My brain is hearing the French, translating the French, then trying to comprehend the meaning not just the words and anticipating what’s coming next to understand the context. So sometimes I don’t realize that I don’t understand until several sentences later when suddenly the conversation is going in a totally unexpected and inexplicable direction. And then before I can say, stop, the conversation is back on a track that I do comprehend and all is good and is it worth it to go back and say, wait, what?

If you speak two languages, you should totally get this. I enjoy talking to my Dutch friend about this issue – she is quite fluent in English. She knew English well before moving to the US and after 3 years, she is very articulate. And she can relate to what I am going through. She’s my role model and hero – I hope to speak French someday as well as she speaks English.

After Victoire, I spent a pleasant 2.5 hours with Chantelle whose speech patterns I know well. And we also spoke English (The entire time with Victoire is in French). Chantelle is much more fluent in English than I in French but today she read to me. She wanted help with a book, definitions, and pronunciation. There is a difference between speaking and reading. We use words we are accustomed to in our conversations. Reading pushes us with words or terms that we are not used to. So for me it was a … not redeeming… but comforting moment when she stumbled over some phrases. As my mom used to say, don’t put the em-PHAS-is on the wrong si-LAB-bul. This also made me feel like I was finally helping her after all the time she spends teaching me.

2015-05-22 16.12.10And I got an invitation to come on the 14th of July to her place to watch the fireworks across Paris. Yes. Love that idea. That is, of course, what we call Bastille Day.  Instead of Independence Day, we say the Fourth of July. Same concept. But that’s a long ways away.  (That’s the view from her balcony.)

Great news today – I will have a visitor over a June weekend. My Dutch friend is coming over. That’s good timing too.

I have some planning to do.  When oh when am I going to Berlin because I need to buy the plane tickets. And maybe Giverny next Thursday before the tourist crowd gets huge.

And I will leave you with the saying I heard every Friday when I worked in Truckee: “They’re here!” Like the aliens had landed. But it meant that the weekend tourists had arrived and were in Safeway stocking up. There are always tourists in Paris, but I must admit I am seeing more now that two months ago…

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