Packing and…

I am now officially 8 wake ups from getting on the plane.

I have the duffel bag packed, weighed, zipped.  The big Eagle Creek bag is half full.  The carry-on has sacks of stuff surrounding it and the backpack is pretty much limited to what I need on the plane  and all the electronic stuff.  Sitting by the door are two boxes ready to mail back.  I can’t mail them the same day.  If they arrive at the same time in Customs in the US, I will exceed my duty free limit.  So one goes tomorrow.  Not today?  Well, of course not.  It is Easter Monday and all the post offices are closed.  So one tomorrow, the other on Thursday.

A third box will go on Saturday.  Yes.  One more.  Full mostly of stuff that is returning to the US.  This frees my suitcase of extra weight.  I am limited to 50 lbs per suit case.  It’s a giant puzzle.  Weight plus value of item that is going back to the States for the first time.  I say that because my suitcases are full of things I bought here but bring back and use.

At this point, I think I will be fine.  And if it doesn’t fit, I guess time to toss things.  Sunday it all must be in the suitcases for the move to a hotel.  Two nights in the hotel and Tuesday off to the airport.  This is not my preferred way of doing things.  I have to live out of a suitcase for two nights.  But I can suck it up and survive.

Is it time to go back?  Yes.  The last weeks here are bittersweet. I do love Paris.  But I also focus on the future and am eager to get back home.  Thoughts appear in my head unbidden.  The dishwasher is better than this one.  More light in my house.  My dryer! OMG Fluffy clothes.  The air in Sacramento is less polluted.  I have air conditioning.  An office in which to work on my computer instead of the dining room table.

And after four years with the majority of my time spent here, I know Paris.  I know French.  And I am not ready to tackle French bureaucracy to move here full time.

And, are you ready for this?  I have a checklist of place to go before I leave.  Some I haven’t been to yet.  Some to go back to in order to say au revoir.  And as opportunities to stop at these places occur…  I am on the bus and see the College des Bernadines right there.  I don’t jump off the bus.  I think, nah, it’s ok.  I don’t need to go.  Same with Sainte Chapelle.  This Medieval scholar (applied loosely) suddenly finds Paris to have a surfeit of medieval sites.

I do want to go see the famous table in the Louvre.  I have lunch planned this week for the d’Orsay.  Notre Dame was on the list – clearly, it’s not now.  I don’t need to go back to the Cluny – I can visualize most of the important objects.

Instead, I am making more time for seeing friends.  Dinners, drinks, lunches.  Kir Royale (cassis with champagne).

I still owe you a blog about the three chateau road trips, how I started on Infinite Paris in the first place.  And, maybe more for me than you, how I have changed since this experience.  In fact, I’d welcome any of your opinions on that, dear readers.  Just leave a comment.  Or email me if you have my email.

Now I must go get ready for the first of three tango lessons this week.

Odds and Ends

The return trip is looming.  I have found a stack of blog notes on my dining room table.  Let’s just get through them.

Spotted around Paris over the last weekend.

Tuktuks (small carts for tourists – not a bike cab.) I usually see these in other Tourist towns.  One ran between the train station and center of St Emilion.  tuktuk image

And a horse and carriage.  Those are all over NY, but I don’t recall seeing one in Paris before.

And the six person pedal powered contraption that allows the sitter to pedal and drink beer.  Each time it came around the block, the occupants were a great deal noisier.

Embassies.  Ambassades.  They are located all over Paris.  Makes sense.  Like in DC in the States.  But here, they are all, it seems, housed in these grand hotel particulars.   Not real hotels.  No.  Grand mansions.  I wonder how some of these small countries can afford such fabulous digs.  Denmark and Saudi Arabia are located on the Champs Elysees.  Maybe regretting that these Saturdays of the Gilet Jaune.  Anyway – do the countries purchase them?  Or rent them?  From a private owner or the city of Paris or country of France?  Inquiring minds want to know.  At least, mine does.

Easter was yesterday.  And I had this bizarre craving for white shoes.  Or sandals.  White because Easter was the demarcation for wearing white shoes when living in the Midwest as a child.  And then on the other end, Labor Day was when the white shoes were packed away for the winter.  I say sandals because it has suddenly turned hot.  Not unbearable hot, as it can in the summer.  But near 80s for the past four day and through tomorrow.  Then it goes back to the 60s and rain.  Huh?  Weather gods and goddesses, what did you do with the 70s of spring?

I know I have complained about the road work.  Did I tell you the story about the bus?  So we are driving down a narrow street, as usual.  On the right is a delivery truck, pulled over but still sticking into the lane.  Usually, not a problem.  But on the left was roadwork.  And the green roadwork barriers.  It was such a tight squeeze that the bus driver stopped the bus.  Opened his window and pushed and shoved the barrier away from the bus.  It was a rough go.  Then the guys working in the hair salon opposite dropped their shears and came to the rescue.  Together they heaved and hoisted the barrier back about 2 inches.  Lots of Merci Merci, the driver closed his window and we drove on.

There was a Marche de Pacques near St Germaine des Pres.  I stayed on the bus.  I actually decided to not even stroll by.  I guess my marche days are over.

When I ranted about scooters, did I include their noise?  Sure, they zip by you relatively quietly but when people are trying to order their scooter and discover it, the dang things emit this beeping noise.  So strange to be walking down the street with no one near and suddenly these scooters lying on their sides start beeping and chirping.  Saw people zipping down the street – so they are legal – at maybe  15 mph or more – without helmets.  Crazy insane.

When the bus drivers announce sudden changes in their routes – deviations for manifestations or roadwork – I amazingly understand more times than not.  Makes me think back to 2007 when I was on the metro and it sat in a station.  An announcement finally came on.  I had no clue.  But as I watched all the French people get up and leave the train, I figured it was going to be there a while and so departed myself.

Three recent road trips.  To Chambord, Clermont-Ferrand, and Normandy.  On two of them I saw the iconic double towers for nuclear plants.  I am always shocked even though I know most of the power here is generated by nuclear.  Germany is getting rid of theirs.  Not France.

I made a snarky comment on FB with a photo of Chinese bride and groom riding the bus to get to a photo shoot for their wedding.  I was castigated for being mean. Why did I assume a Paris wedding would be expensive?  And another said most of those “shoots” are for magazine layouts.  I deleted it.  Yes, it was snarky.  I am apparently not enlightened enough to not let snark out from time to time.  Sigh.  Then I posted a meme that said something about not doing revenge, just letting karma do its thing.  People liked that one.  In fact, I was hesitant because even though it sounds noble, it has an underlying message that ha, those bad people will get theirs!  If you are a really good person, I think you just bless them and go on your way, not worrying if karma or anything else happens to them.  Life can be complicated, but we are only human.

I crossed a bridge today.  The old iron railings are slowly disappearing.  I always found them full of charm.  Now there are plexiglass panels.  In a way, nicer because you have a full view of the river.  But charming, no.  And why the change?  Because of the “romantic” idiots who have to put locks on the bridges to lock their love for posterity.  And eventually, enough locks and the railing falls over into the Seine.  Idiots.

Did I warn you about the clip boards?  If you are approached by a nice young girl with a clipboard, don’t bother being polite.  Just say a firm NO and keep walking.  It’s a scam.  Not sure how they do the pickpocketing thing, but I am sure it’s there.  They get you reading the papers and then their friends come around.  One time about 6 years ago, I was literally surrounded.  I was yelling at them.  A nice French woman came to my defense and yelled also.  They dispersed.

I walk down the street and see so many people looking down at their smart phones.  Yes.  I am guilty too.  But usually I am looking at maps.  I was just bopping around the city this weekend and realizing that I don’t use the maps anymore.  They look down for their map or to text or whatever, and I saunter with my head up, drinking in all that is Paris.

If you are walking across a bridge in the crosswalk and you hear a siren, I’d suggest you stop in place.  I saw a couple with their two kids in front, totally ignoring the sound.  The kids turned their heads and saw the car and then did that rock step, do we run do we stay?  They ran.  Then the parents did the same thing.  The car swerved to the right around them and almost hit a cyclist who had appropriately stopped on the side of the road, expecting the car to go down the center lane.  Where did these people come from and leave all their common sense at home?  I would think fast cop cars and sirens are a global experience?    Oh dear.  Snarky again.


Stay safe?

What was the news telling you, over in America? I received tons of texts, calls, and FB posts and messages asking if I was and telling me to be safe.

It wasn’t a terrorist attack. At least, for the moment it is being treated as an accident. It started right where the scaffolding was. Probably some machine malfunction? A random spark? The fire could have smoldered for hours.

If I was a terrorist, I’d want it to be clear it was my doing. So I wouldn’t hide it near the renovation work. And I’d claim responsibility immediately. No one has as far as I know.

And if you (oh I cannot think this possible of you, dear reader) or anyone you know or overheard even whispers the word Muslim, rant at them. Rage at them. I recall the attacks in 2015 at Bataclan when the only Uber driver who came to pick me up was an Arab. Without him I would have been stranded in the middle of Paris at 11 a night.

Terrorists are terrorists. Any color. Any religion.

Ok my rant over.

Notre Dame de Paris

À quick update. I’m on the train going to Clermont-Ferrand for an overnight

I was watching the tv as was the world. Watching Notre Dame burn. I was first notified at 7:2 on my phone by the Washington Post of all things. They beat out AP, BBC, and my Parisien news. To this point, I had not turned on the TV so I had to find my instructions. I was glued to it for a bit then I decided to go see for myself. My first photo was tagged at 8:36. I couldn’t really see much as I was facing the two towers. You could see the arc of the water spraying on and in the building. Once even some shooting flames. The crowd was quiet. Hoping. Praying.

I had no problem getting close by bus. But when I decided to go home, most of the bus lines nearby were closed. Too much traffic. Too many people. I walked to the metro which was running with no issues.

Home again I sat and watched the TV. There was that nervous hour when the French minister said they weren’t sure they could save the towers. Then the screen flashes with Le structure est sauvé et préservé. Whew.

It’s not the first time this or any cathedral burned. I kept thinking about during the 1300s how they would have just watched. A bucket brigade against the fury of a fire… helpless

The pompiers (firefighters) used water from the Seine. They didn’t use aerial drops as the weight of the water dropping may have caused worse damage.

So you go into a cathedral and looked up to a vaulted ceiling. Bricks. Stones. But above that is the attic. Where you will find the wooden structure that holds up the roof. Imagine. Some or many of these beams are original. Old. Dry. Start them burning…

And then as they crumble in flames, the lead roof above melts and falls. I had thought that the weight would have pushed through the vaulted ceiling. But I saw photos last night released by the city of Paris that shows the vault intact above the altar. Thank you, God, Universe, pompiers, what or whoever.

The spire fell. Dramatic footage on YouTube. I didn’t care. The spire was put up in the 1800s. I’m the medieval purist.

I almost missed my train this morning as I asked the taxi to take me by her. From the front, almost normal but the spire is missing. Unsettling. It wasn’t possible to get close. The police has cordoned off the island, stopping pedestrians who are just lookylous. But I could see the north transept, smoke damaged. Windows clear. No stained glass. A wall basically standing by itself. Well. No. It looked that way because I couldn’t see the rest of the building. The walls are still intact. And some places the ceiling remains. But from my perspective at that moment, it looked alone.

A fund was started less than an hour into the fire for rebuilding. Today the BHV groupe promised €200 million. I heard someone else promised €100 million.

The very good thing is there is a school/association in Tours, France, dedicated to the medieval rebuilding and repair crafts.


Music, Art, Dogs, Packing

I am a sucker for an accordion player who plays the traditional French songs.  On the metro today.  I gave him money.  He made me happy.

I walked to the art museum today.  Remember?  The buses are screwed up again. Bright and sunny again, but chilly.  I wore my Chamonix jacket and it was not too much!  Where oh where is spring?  Or at least, the spring temperatures?

These private art collections are just amazing.  I have seen so many recently.  Imagine you have enough money just to buy up all these impressionists.  And then hang them in your home.  And eventually, create a foundation and your own museum so you can lend them to other museums around the world after you die.  Thank you to all you wealthy collectors.  Paris is special this way.  I can’t think of another city where there are so many museums and so many expositions like this.  Today I saw Manets and Monets and Renoirs and Van Goghs and Lautrecs and Cezannes that I had never seen before.  Even not seen in books.  It filled my soul.  And there were a few cubist Picassos but I won’t spend any time on them.

By the way, I did cook last night!  Chicken with noodles, and asparagus wrapped with bacon, and gouda cheese on top of it all.  Tasty, if I do say so myself!  And when I get home, I shall try the ham and cheese wrapped in endive that was served to me in the Netherlands.  And a friend said they had made pasta with shrimp for dinner – and I actually found myself drooling a bit.  What is happening to my relationship with food?  Pretty soon you won’t be able to call me a picky eater.  Funny how we transform even when we age.

Rudeness.  I wanted to expound a bit more about the ‘rude’ French.  Most of the time I have a good relationship with the French wait staff.  I try to speak French.  I know not to rush.  I relax at the meal.  And I ask their advice re wine or dessert.  I can often get them smiling.  What I do know is that they are not American.  And that American efficiency, the attentiveness, the service with a smile and bring the check soon – ya, it’s not here.  And that’s ok.  The gal I mentioned in the last blog.  She had an attitude.  And I think I was more irritated because the other wait staff there know me and are nice and smiling and actually chat with me.  She was not.  She was dismissive of the tourist.  Ha.

The French are more formal.  You must start with Bonjour.  Even Excusez moi doesn’t cut it.  My other French friend said that was rather new.  She said she will often start with excusez moi.  And if someone does the Bonjour thing on her, she answers right back with – so what, excusez moi is not polite?  And basically, what’s wrong with you.  No, I shall never say that.  I don’t have the accent to get away with that.  So I will just keep working on remembering to say Bonjour.

The French say the Parisians are the problem.  That the French outside of Paris are nice and friendly.  Yes.  But I don’t mind the Parisians.  Just don’t give me attitude.

The dog cemetery was …  a cemetery for animals.  Not very big.  And for a place that has been there since 1899, I didn’t see all that many graves.  I did see many new ones.  I think they stopped using it in the 50s and started again maybe 20 years ago.  The most common name – Kiki.  Yes, there was Rin Tin Tin.  Nothing special.  And a St Bernard that saved 40 peoples lives, the 41st killed him.  Yes. It said that.  Hmmm…  I don’t know if the saving of the 41 was so difficult and treacherous that he died or that the 41st didn’t like the dog and killed him on purpose.  It’s a mystery.  But many new headstones.  That makes me wonder… do they reuse the space?  I know in some of the people cemeteries, you buy the plot for a period of time.  And if the family lets it go, well then.  The space becomes available.  Do they dig you up and toss you into a mass grave?  I don’t know.  Too morbid to investigate.

There was a lady who was raking and watering.  We chatted.  And I held up my end of the conversation.  I know I know I keep saying this. But it’s always tickles me when I speak French spontaneously.  And they understand!

And lastly, my friend with the heart problem texted me after reading about herself in these pages.  I was delighted to hear that after several hospital stays, she is now home.  Perhaps a long recovery… but that’s still good!  Glad you are doing well, my friend.

Now to practice packing.  Literally, taking everything and putting it into the two bags to see if it all fits.  And if not, what stays…  I must do this early enough that I have time to find solutions.

Art, Dead Dogs, Buses, Rudeness & Bridge

I am preparing for the day.  An impressionist exposition at the Musee Maillol at 1230.  Maybe the dog cemetery after.  Rin Tin Tin is buried there.  Yes.  Really.  Apparently, he was adopted by a GI after WW2 and was taken back to the US and Hollywood and the rest, as they say, is history.  When he died, someone thought he should be buried on native soil.  (which, of course, reminds me of Lafayette – who is indeed buried on native soil here in Paris – however, dirt from Boston was shipped over so his coffin could lie on American soil also.  Yes.  That was his express wish and his son carried it out.)

The Dog (and other pets) Cemetery was started in 1899 when a law was passed that you couldn’t dump dead pets in the trash or in the Seine.

The only problem is getting there.  Or anywhere.  Manifestation!!!  OK. It’s NOT the Gilet Jaune.  They are only on Saturdays.  Nope.  Today, Sunday, there is a marathon.  Which is screwing up all my buses once again.  I will have to take the metro to the museum.  Perhaps the race will be over in the early afternoon and I can bus it home.  Or to the dog cemetery.

My schedule is getting packed.  I’m back in almost 2 weeks.  TWO WEEKS!  That’s not a lot of time.  And I scheduled an overnight out of town trip.  What was I thinking?

Yesterday I had an encounter with a French waitress and my French friend.  Our usual table was taken in the café so he moved to the other side of the restaurant.  A new waitress looked at him like what the hell are you doing!  And he had to give a huge explanation and she finally seemed to agree we could sit at that table.  All because silverware was laid on the table.  That technically means you can only sit there if you are ordering food.  This was at 10 am.  And every single table on that side was empty.  Zip.  Nada.  No other customers.  There must be about 20 plus tables.  Really?  And she glared at me too.  And when she heard my accent, she came back with a menu in English.  Non merci.  Just go away.  I made a face at her back.  Not a terrible face.  More a rolling of the eyes.  I thought my French friend might have a coronary.  What?  I didn’t say anything to her.  I didn’t complain.  I didn’t make a face at her directly.  I just expressed some displeasure.  I was outside some politesse conventions apparently.   A conversation about rudeness ensured.  I told him that Americans think French are rude.  He absolutely found this incredible.  Le Francais?  Mais non.  Mais oui.  And this after he had started to read the Book Bonjour which talks about the difference between French and Americans.  Like we are pleasant.  They are not.

The topic continued in the evening with another French friend who is more well-traveled than he.  She understood.  And knew the difference between French and American customer service.

Really, my French friends.  Google rudest countries.  France is always up there.

Bridge.  Not the pont.  But the card game.  My grandmother was a bridge fanatic.  My mother thus hated bridge and the bridge clubs her mother sponsored.  So it’s never been on my list for things to do or learn.  Until now.  My landlord who is on the 3 month cruise has many many many too many days at sea for my taste.  I think he has 8 coming up right now as he sails up the coast of Africa.  I texted him – what on earth do you do to keep from becoming bored?  For me, there are only so many massages…  He replied, Bridge.  I thought that was a good idea.  And since I might have a cruise in my future – in absence of 6 or 9 months in France or anywhere else, I will need to get away.  A short cruise might be the answer.  I also realized that I have 3 friends who all play bridge and they are all Myers Briggs INTs.  My letters too.  Maybe this makes some sense.  I’m certainly not going to find bridge lessons here before I leave.  And if I did, I don’t know if my French is good enough and more importantly where I would find the time.  So I have been trying some websites that offer tutorials and games against the computer.

It’s much like hearts, an old family game.  The bidding… I’m getting a fuzzy picture of it in my brain.  I think the light will dawn soon enough.

But for now, paintings and dead dogs call to me.

The Good Mood Continues

It is bright sunny and that is deceptive.  It should be warm.  It is NOT warm.  In fact, it was in the 40s this morning and I think the high is 51.  Where oh where are the 70s?  The long range forecast has some 70s popping up.  But the forecasters are sadists, I think.  Teasing me.  Not nice.  Pas gentile.

Scooters.  The new thing in Paris.  The kind you put your two feet on and then zip away under electric power.  I do not like the scooters. I haven’t tried one.  What if I lose my balance and fall over?  Not risking it.  AND it’s now illegal to use them on sidewalks.  That means you are out scooting in the streets with the crazy drivers and big buses.  Really?  It was bad enough when the kids were using them with their foot power.  But adults?  Going fast?  And what’s worse is that they just drop them anywhere.  The scooters litter the streets.  Standing up in a row.  Lying on their sides, every which way, blocking sidewalks.  I hate them.  I think Paris is becoming displeased – hence the law re no sidewalk use.  Hefty fines.  And there are a multitude of companies providing the scooters.  I read there will be more fees required of them in the future.  It’s all done on line.  You download the ap.  Put in your credit card info.  Search for a scooter.  It hooks you up with one around you and sends a signal to the scooter to beep at you until you claim in.  And you ride away and then just get off and dump it.

It’s another Saturday and my buses are screwed up.  Those damn Gilet Jaune.  But that’s ok.  I have been going too fast – no real break since my trip to the Netherlands.  I planned to stay in bed all day.  Lasted til noon.  Did a bit of shopping – everything around me is closed tomorrow on Sunday.  Got a croissant and baguette.  And some chicken.  OMG.  It sounds like I might even cook!  I’m taking a break from Grey’s Anatomy, my new binge show.

I go back to the US in 17 wake ups.  And before then, I have to send at least one more box home.  I might send two.  I’ve started packing my duffle.  Still room and only 25 lbs.  I’m going to have to put everything else into the suitcase and see how much that weighs.  And then take mostly everything out because I am still here for 17 days.  But this is my normal returning-after-more-than-6-months routine.

And my thoughts are turning back to California.  Today as I was taking ice cubes out for my drink, I remembered that I have an ice maker in my fridge.   Automatic ice!  What a concept.  And even though both the apartments on this trip had dishwashers, and this one has a separate clothes dryer, I am still looking forward to my appliances.

The clothes dryer here is wonderful.  I don’t have to plan out my washing.  When should I wash?  How long will it take for the clothes to air dry?  Can I put them in front of the heater?  Nope, just open the washer, take the clothes out, throw them in the dryer.  But the clothes don’t ever come out American fluffy.  I miss fluffy.  Soon!!

Monday is tax day.  This is the first time ever I have asked for an extension.  Every other time I have been back in the States in January, February and March.  I sat at my computer and got everything organized and sent it.  This time, I actually grabbed all the documents I needed and brought them over, but I just can’t seem to get motivated to do them here in Paris.  My accountant is a dedicated “dear reader” of this blog.  She texts me from the hospital that she just underwent heart surgery.  Yikes.  This is the kind of thing I hate to have happen.  I want to go visit her.  She should be home now.  I want to see how she’s doing.  And all I can do for now is text and add her to my blog with best wishes for a speedy recovery.

I can’t blog these days without a mention of tango.  I was having lessons at least a day apart – except last week.  Our schedules did not mesh so I had an appointment on Wednesday at 11 and then Thursday at 6 pm.  I really thought my head was going to explode, to say nothing of my aching feet.  She told me that an intensive course like I was taking was difficult.  There was so much to impart and so much to learn in such a short period.  OK, folks.  I’m dumb.  I just figured I was taking lessons.  She’s right.  She has put together a very intensive course for me.  She tries to repeat and build on the lessons.  I’m getting my money’s worth out of her.  And she is exhausting me.  And I had mentioned this earlier, but now, suddenly, I am eager to dance.  To go to milongas, to practicas, to group lessons.  That’s the only way I will figure out how to put this all together.  Using the wall or the buffet as a partner, to practice pivots, etc., is just not cutting it.

In the museums these days, the guards are usually sticklers about back packs.  You must wear them across your chest, not back.  So you don’t run into other visitors and also, so you don’t run into and topple over art – like the Venus de Milo.  I wish someone did the same thing in metros.  I got smacked several different times last week by back pack wearers.  OMG what did they have in that back pack?  It was as big as a large suitcase.  And it hurt when it connected.

I am fading.  Back to binge watching and relaxing.

A bientot

April 10 – Dance Day!

It started out like a normal but busy Wednesday.  Except with a few more appointments than usual.  First, the tango lesson with Vero at 11.  She is so good.  Such a stickler for technique.  And explains things so well that it makes sense to me.  She even found me a dance partner.  An American who lives here but is from the Bay area.  I texted.  We talked.  We actually know people in common.  From Sac.  Tango is turning into a small small world.

So.  Good lesson.  So much on technique.  It overwhelms me sometimes.  How can I not learn how to balance one foot?  I practice daily.  I guess I must expand my 10 minutes to longer.  I left in a bit of a funk.  But then I conquered the bus system so I felt better.

Full disclosure.  I conquered the after I got on the bus going the wrong direction.  Shrug.  It was the tiny Montmartre bus.  But I turned that into lemonade.  Got off at Sacre Coeur and took the funicular down to Pigalle.  Then a bit of a hike to the right metro.  Buses were not my friends today.  Home finally to put my feet up.  I wore my 2.5 inch heel boots to tango.  Danced.  Then had to hike around in the boots.  By the time I got home, feet were tired.  A bit of a lay down with Greys’ Anatomy before leaving for a pratica.

Practica is a tango event.  You get to practice.  So the strict rules of a milonga are relaxed.  You can talk to your partner.  You can stop and try something again.  And even corral a corner for serious repetition. . Things that are all forbidden at Milongas.

I was meeting Eddie at the practica.  My instructor Vero introduced me to Eddie.  She had met him at a workshop and asked if she could give me his number.  He said yes.  We texted.  We talked.  We met.  He was wearing his GS Warriors ball cap.  Go Bay Area!

So the routine at a practica is a tanda is composed of 4 tangos with a short break in between.  Then a real break.  I danced 2 tandas – that’s 8 tangos.  Wow.  It’s different to actually dance.  With someone who is not an instructor.  He did some steps I had never encountered in tango, some rock steps.  But I figured them out.  I flubbed a few times, but that’s to be expected.  I understood following/responding better than before.  I’m not great, but I have improved.  Lessons are great, but I need to now take some group lessons so I can dance with more people.

A dear friend has been encouraging me to go to these milongas and practicas to dance.  Ya.  That’s the point, I know.  But yikes.  I hate hate hate the “pretty woman sit on the bench and wait for a man to ask you to dance” process.  I hated it in high school and college.  And bars after college.  And then I became this independent woman and just ignored it.  Now at an advanced age with the white hair to show for my life’s experiences, I am back at that sit on the bench place.  And it’s awful.  I’d use “language” but I maintain decorum in my blog.  How about, it’s just yucky?

My response is a conundrum even to me.  Moi, normally full of confidence and sometimes even bravado.  Suddenly wanting to scuttle out of the room, clasping my dancing shoes to my chest, hoping no one sees my escape run.

And yet.  Friends are wonderful things.

After the two tandas, I grabbed an Uber to get to Ozmos for an open mic evening.  No, no no.  You who know me well also know that I am not a singer.  When I was about 6, in church, Sunday school, singing, the little girl in front of me turned and said, find the key!  And I stood stock still.  I knew I had done something wrong – her facial expression and tone were clearly dismissive.  Hard to hide in Sunday School.  But I stopped singing and hid in place.  When I got home, I asked my mother.  What keys?  Was I supposed to have a key?  Mom didn’t give me any keys?  Did I lose them?  Was I in trouble?  My mom just said, that’s ok, dear.  Just mouth the words form now on.   And that was a life lesson.   In hindsight, she should have gathered me into her arms and hugged me protectively.  But we are Swedes.  We don’t do that emotional stuff.

I took singing lessons about 6 years ago.  The guy was nice, but I think he saw me as a cash cow.  I listened to some recordings after 4 weeks.  No improvement.  I quit.

All that to say, I went to listen.  My new friend C is a singer.  Yes.  Like a professional singer!  And he was planning on singing.  I knew the café already.  Some of the expat meetups were held there.  And I knew the piano player.  His name is Sheldon and he used to have restaurant/piano bar,  Café RaYe.  I went there a couple times.  Super cool.  Art deco interior.  All black and white.  I heard he closed it finally because of French bureaucracy.  It’s not easy to run a business in France if you are used to America procedures.

What a fabulous evening!  Many singers.  Blues. Guitars.  Ukes.  Vocals.  Alaska. Seattle.  Novato!  A mélange of French and American.  One French gal was spectacular – and no accent when singing.  There I sit with C & G and with U & S, two women I also know, one German/American and the other French.  C was amazingly great!

My mojo came back with a force.

A very cool Frenchman asked me to dance.  I must admit that my norm is to decline politely – because I have two left feet.  But now I dance tango.  And I told the Universe last July that I will say YES.

So I did.

And what a fun it was.  I told him I danced tango.  We were dancing more swing stuff, whirling and twirling.  It was fun!  He kissed my hand.  And told me I was a great dancer.

Later he performed a Jacques Brell song.  I must admit, I don’t get French singers – other than Edith Piaf, that is.

And G of C&G is a terribly bad influence.  He made me – literally, pushed me – get up and dance with the guitar player.  And before the evening was over, I danced with Monsieur Cool again.

OK fine.  My mojo was helped by four glasses of Cote du Rhone.  And before I left, the bartender gave – yes, free, two shots of a fig alcohol.  Too happy to wake up this morning with a hangover.  I feel fine.

A good time was had by all.  But especially me!

G says at the next milonga, I should just break the rules and go ask a guy to tango.  I might take him up on that idea.   Only thing is, I have less than three weeks left and am finding every day packed to the gills.  (why gills?  Who packs gills anyway?)

Liking my mojo.  Going to invite her to stay for a long time.

Earth Hour and French for Straw

Today.  I was out for drinks with a French friend.  Getting to our usual café is normally a snap.  One bus.  Straight shot.  But not on a Saturday with the Gilet Jaune.  All the buses around me were Arret Non Desservi.  Not running.  And the most direct metro route didn’t work as the transfer station was closed by the police.  So a rather roundabout way got me there.  A lovely chat as usual with a dear friend.  I like dear friends.  The only sour note was the bill.

I decided to have a glass of wine.  In honor of the spring like day, I chose a rose.  I picked the cheaper choice.  Had a small taste and didn’t care for it much.  So I had a taste of the more expensive one.  Didn’t like that at all so went back to the original.  The bill came with the pricier one.  The waitress had gone.  The waiter got the boss man.  He argued with me.  I argued back.  I wasn’t backing down and it was becoming the principle of the thing.  He finally grabbed the receipt and took it back and returned it less the extra expense.  We were talking a 5 euro difference.  He calmed down by the end.  Ha.

My friend went off to dance and I headed home, taking the metro and then deciding to walk instead of changing trains.  Great idea.  As I came around the corner to the Eiffel Tour, by the time I had my phone out to take pictures it started  glittering.  If you followed my FaceBook page, you would be sick of my ET photos.  I am a sucker for it.  Shrug  As I got closer to it and it stopped glittering (5 minutes, on the hour) I saw w:ords – Earth Hour.    Earth hour.  When everyone is supposed to turn off the lights for an hour at 8:30 Pm local time.  It was 8:10 by the time I realized I had forgot all this.   And yes, I sat down to wait.

There’s a lot of time to wait in Paris.  On buses.  For buses.  For metro. On trains.  And for the Eiffel Tower to go dark.

I timed it well and got a video of it all lit up and suddenly dark.  I’m a nerd for this kind of stuff.

But I decided to come home instead of waiting another hour for it to light up again.

Time changes here tonight.  Well, actually Sunday at 2 am when it will spring forward to 3 am.  And I will be back to 9 hours difference between Paris and the Pacific Daylight Time.  I like daylight savings time.  I prefer darker mornings.

So today I stop for a soda. Really needed the caffeine. Asked for it and went to le toilette. Came back. It was on the counter. Helped myself. And then asked for a straw. In French. She didn’t understand me. Tried several times. Both English and French. She finally got it. Then she said, the reason she didn’t understand is that she didn’t expect me to speak French so well. Therefore, it just didn’t compute in her brain. But she did say that I indeed said it correctly. Ha!