It’s been a week. That’s the Paris symbol – a sailboat on the Seine – been that for years. And the Latin motto – Tossed but not sunk.
A disjointed blog follows.
People ask me about the pulse of Paris. I have no clue. My own feelings are simultaneously deep and ponderous and totally incomprehensible.
My best description is that Paris has been dulled.
How can I separate myself from my emotions and discover those of other people? I cannot. There was a journalist who was at the nightclub. As he was interviewed and told his story, you could see that he was no longer a journalist. As he gave witness, he was a participant who still hadn’t processed the event. I say the event for lack of another word – but there is another word: the Horror.
On the Metro
- After the show How to be a Parisien in just one Hour, I think I should be sitting in the metro being amused by the French uniform of black. I am not.
- I see a woman with flowers and I wonder what for and I don’t think of for a celebration or love or fun. I think for the memorial.
- I see the diversity in Paris in the metro. Black brown white tan yellow orange rose. Old young. That is what makes up paris.
- I don’t want to wallow in Paris pity.
- I want to be in the bus not underground.
- Metro gives me too much time to think.
The cafes are still not full to the normal level. I ate out near the Tour last night. French food is still amazing even in the tiniest spots. But I must admit to succumbing to comfort food twice this week. I found myself just wanting something that had good memories – like going out for a McDonalds run at midnight while rehearsing or building sets at UCSC some umpteen years ago. Funny how those things help.
A trip to the big outlet shopping mall One Nation for a specific purse and to get out of Paris for a few hours. Trip is a bust. The store is there but without the bag I want. They did call the Paris store so it was waiting for me in Paris. That process was amusing. A natural reflexive action in the states- the clerk will ask should I see if another store has it? Not here. Two shop clerks. Neither wanted to call, back and forth and back and forth until one finally gave in and called, found it and put it on hold. Afterward I was so tempted to say- see how easy that was?!? But I didn’t. Just said thanks and left.
The mall is dead. Don’t read Paris attacks into that. Simply the time of year and rainy day. But also there are many empty storefronts. I suspect it’s hopping in mid-summer.
A comment on my French language skills. I went to England and they improved. Same after Ireland. And now I am automatically placing the him, them and it in the right places: before the verb. French construction is more like: I it to him gave. I prefer English where I have time to decide if I want to say I gave it to him or I gave the book to Fred. So now I am saying it correctly and then all those little men in my head start opening the champagne and celebrating and I immediately forget what I was going to say. But it’s fun. And I am told by drivers and clerks that I shouldn’t apologize for my French. C’est bien. Imagine. Someday in the future I won’t have to write about improving my language skills
Hollande said he was closing the borders. No, he didn’t mean that no one could go out or come in. It’s the Schengen thing again. As far as I understand, they were doing to tighten the borders on Nov 30 for the climate conference. That would mean instituting passport control. I think they have just moved that forward two weeks or so. It’s allowed in the Schengen Treaty – a country can close their open borders with a good reason for 3 months. It will be interesting to see how this plays out as it’s being discussed in the European Union meetings right now. But once in the EU, you are not stopped between countries. Free to go anywhere. Free to transport your Kalashnikovs anywhere you want, including Paris.
This afternoon I stopped in Notre Dame for a bit of meditation. And it was almost empty. In all my trips here I have never seen so few people. Usually too, there is a low hum – the noise the tourists make. Not today. Silence. It’s been like this since last Friday night. Fewer people on the streets still. No crowds at the Eiffel Tour still.
And to end on a more positive note.
Today I met with a conversation friend who has also become a coaching client. He has had a goal of working in California. And today he showed me his plane tickets. He will be in SF in January meeting people to flesh out some business projects. Woo Hoo Him! We met at 930 as usual and chatted away. And at 11 (a more respectable hour, I guess) he ordered champagne for a toast. This warms my heart on so many levels.