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Archive for March, 2009

leselect-2523It was a flash rain and we ducked into Le Select.  The rain came down quick and fast and the servers tipped the chairs outside so the puddles wouldn’t collect.  Water came down quick off the awning and it was quiet on the inside of the floor to ceiling glass.  We sat down.  I acted as if to warm my hands and she watched out the window.

“It’s drenched out there,” she said, and that was it.

Once upon a time, we would forget to pick what we wanted we had that much to say.  They’d bring us the menus and we’d talk over them opened.

“Have you decided yet?” the server would ask.

“Oh, no.  One more minute,” and we’d do our best to concentrate on the small print.

Come to think of it now, I don’t think that’s actually true.  We never had much to say.

“So, how’s the States?” I asked.

“Oh, you know,” she said.

“Yeah.  I guess.”

The server brought water and I poured.  She swirled hers like wine and rearranged her silverware straight.  She glanced at mine, crooked, then at me.  I did nothing.  She watched outside someone parallel parking a Smart car unsuccessfully .

I felt the cold coming off the window.

“What are you getting?” I asked.

“A salad,” she said.

“Yeah.  Those looked good.”

She traced her finger over the rim of her glass.  I thought of asking for a lemon wedge for her.  She likes lemon wedges.  I didn’t ask.

“Do you like it here?” she asked.

“This café or Paris in general?”

She looked at me incrediously.  It was familiar.  

“Paris is always Paris and is bound to be,” I said.  “It’s a beautiful city.”  

The waiter took our order.  I got a salad.  She got the chicken.

A man in the phone-booth just outside yelled, smashed the receiver down, kicked the wall and walked away in a huff.  We both watched.

“What?” she said, after a pause.

“Hmmm?”

“I thought you said something.”

“Oh, no.”

The server brought our food, left the check on the table.

“Those salads do look good,” she said.

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Paris park with pigeons and fountains

last night’s wine bottle

tipped over

under the bench.

Late morning

bright paris springtime sun

open windows top floor

ten foot shadows on hardwood.

Scooters upon scooters

upon scooters upon

scooters upon scooters

upon scooters upon

scooters parked outside

the Japanese restaurant.

Accents down the

metro stairs

carrying luggage.

Cigarettes upon cigarettes

upon cigarettes upon

cigarettes upon cigarettes

upon cigarettes upon 

cigarettes piled up 

next to the sewege grate

after the rain.

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writing hasn’t been happening much lately which has a direct correlation with my state of unrest.  summer is coming and i’m leaving paris soon right at the moment when i gave my first completely unselfish hug.  i watched a lecture today about living forever and the developing the technology to do it.  and people asked, “wouldn’t it be boring?” and out of all the things life is, i don’t know that i will ever again find it boring.  arthur, the nine-year-old, says often the same thing in the morning when I tell him he can’t play the computer before school.  he says, “but it’s so boring here.” and i don’t get it, with the books on the shelves, the light coming in through the windows, my own two feet on the ground, bones, muscles, standing up, lying down, sitting and waiting and watching.  yet for me, living forever, or at least, for another hundred years requires a garden.  and odd to me still how things grow.  i don’t grow with sunshine and water and i don’t know why.  

it’s a few days into spring and i feel like summer is coming soon.  and that’s a big deal.  

kate used to talk about legitimacy.  “i want to achieve legitimacy,” she’d say.  or maybe she never really said it that way.  and i once thought that the only way to obtain that was through world travel and a constant melancholy and thought that somehow, happiness was a lesser emotion.  i had hemingway’s “happiness in intelligent people is the rarest thing i know,” in my head.  

and now, no.  happiness is happiness, and it feels good.  it’s worth chasing.  it’s worth forgetting things over.  it’s worth letting rest anxieties and fears to let happen.  and melancholy, too, is worth those moments of reflection, looking out at how it all is, and thinking that either it is here to stay, or that you are quickly losing it.

i just know for now, i am leaving Paris.  i am disquieted and comforted.  there will be more projects and more stories, so many more stories to come.

i have an assignment to sleep under a texas sky.  i have an assignment to start a lemonade stand outside a chicago subway.  i have an assignment to jump into a murky pond near the abraham lincoln memorial museum in southern illinois.  i have an assignment to hike through southern colorado to a place that makes more sense to both of us, wherever that is.  and new york, the upper east side to brooklyn, and chocolate, and long white white hair with big eyes.  i have an assignment to grow some eggplant, to sundry some tomatoes.  

jeremy said today that we’ll pitch a tent in our new living room.

and i’m going to love hard and breathe and eat lots and lots of bitter greens,

 

nice hearty ones, the greens i mean.

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apples and honey.


I met a man 
down by the river who
made bowls

pottery bowls
with the river water

and truffles too
chocolate ones
with the river water

and they melted
when you ate them,
almost down your throat.

i once brought him apples
and honey

and the honey got caught
in his long long beard.

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True fact : In Paris, all toilets are made of solid gold.

——-

Every time she sees some kid’s balloon floating up high, up above the rooftops, up up into the sky, she thinks “Shit!  My balloon!”

——-

Do this with me quick.  I am going to write 10 countries and you write down the first person from that country that comes to mind.  Try not to think about it too much.  Example:  Italy – Dante.  Got it?  Okay, go!  

1.  USA                                 6.  Mexico

2.  Spain                               7.  Russia 

3.  France                             8.  China

4.  Canada                            9.  Japan

5.  Germany                         10.  India

Check out the comments for my answers and conclusion.

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First night of spring and the downstairs neighbor knocks on my door.  Can’t sleep, he tells me and I ask why.  “When I was eleven, or maybe twelve,” he says, and I think here we go and boil some water for tea.

“How long ago was that?” I ask him.

“1924,” he says.  “I took the train alone that year for the first time.  Marseille-Lyon-Paris.”

He tells me that he didn’t know why he took it, but that he did.  It isn’t that he didn’t remember why he took it, he tells me, but just at the time, he decided he was good and ready to take the train.  

“When I got here, I went walking,” he says, “over to the theater.”

I pour the water over some herbs from the window sill.

“But the gate surrounding it was tall and it was night and everything was closed.  No one was on the street so I tried to climb right on over.” he tells me and then stops.  He traces old blistered fingers on my table.  Either the wood catches his skin or the inverse, neither are smooth.  His eyes narrow.

“The gate was sharp,” he tells me, “the top of it.  I got one leg over fine,” he says, “to the other side.”  I pour him a cup.  “And the other got caught, stabbed right through my pants.

Arrowhead,” he says.

Flipped him right over, he tells me.  And there he was, suspended, upside down facing the lights of the city as the night fell deep, the scent of the tree above, a distant radio from the corner shop, and far off, dice players, he assumed are in uniform, speaking arabic.

“It was 85 years ago,” he tells me, “and I still know who won,” as he sips his tea.

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On my Sunday adventure I…

… found out my boss rocks the streets

… experienced utter tragedy on the steps of the Swedish Cultural Center.

… played art art revolution.  and in heels!

… saw that all lines lead to Picasso.

… peered from a balcony across the street into little baby Louis XIV crib after bedtime hours.

… shot an album cover.  Album title anyone?  The best suggestion gets a prize.

… saw the ghosts of Paris.

… lived under Parisian skies.

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