Tuesday, August 13

I experience a Zen moment in Les Deux Magots.

A great day so far. Perfect Paris weather, in the low 60's when I left the apartment and about 70 now.

Had a great time in class cracking jokes, in French, using the subjunctive, and laughing with Deo and two of the impossibly young women from strange foreign lands in a group activity.

The prof handed back our last tests. I did OK. She reamed us out for not knowing the vocabulary. "What good is it to know how to properly construct a sentence using the subjunctive if you don't know the everyday words to put into the sentence?" Didn't bother me at all because I'm used to it by now and most of all because she's right, as always.

Told the prof when class ended "Savez-vous que votre langue est impossible?" (Do you know that your language is impossible?) Said that English was probably hard to learn for a foreigner too, and she said that in her opinion English is an easier foreign language to learn than French. I'll accept her professional judgement. She's very smart, even though she's impossibly strict with us and very demanding and not entirely well-liked (not her job).

Hung out on the sidewalk after class gossiping and talking about plans for the party chez Deo and Raquel this weekend, which has been moved to Friday night. And our class is moving from the crypt to rue de L'Estrapade on Monday.

I'll miss the class. The sad thing is that I think the students are finally getting to know each other a bit better and are starting to get more friendly, but the whole thing will end in just a few weeks.

Walked home, a long walk but a very pleasant one on such a nice morning. Took my time, just strolling. Did lots of window licking on Boul St-Germain and some real shopping too, a present for myself and one for a friend.

Stopped at Les Deux Magots for un café. Sat there for a long time just soaking in the scene, watching the impossibly gorgeous "jeunes & jolies" go past and smiling at the tourists taking pictures, most of them actually French tourists, and getting little smiles in return. Doesn't get much better. Do you ever have one of those rare experiences where you feel like at that exact moment and in that exact place you're precisely where you belong? When for once all of those petty worries and troubles just disappear from your brain and you get all mellow and relaxed and at peace with yourself and the world? I mean, outside of drugs and sex. Those don't count. Doesn't happen to me often, but it did this morning.

Those jeunes & jolies know perfectly well that all the men are looking at them, and all the men know that they know. It's part of the game here. There's a distinct frank and open sexual undertone to almost everything here. Not dirty at all, fresh and natural and almost wholesome. I'm not sure at all that there's really all that much actual sex behind it. Perhaps "sensual" is a better word than "sexual".

This whole gotta take August off and go to the beach thing is getting annoying. Now my tabac is closed for the rest of the month, and it's the only one close. I think I have to walk a whole 4 blocks now.

Deo and I were complaining about all the grocery stores closing at 1 pm on Sunday. He can't believe it either. Carrefour? Fermé! Franprix? Fermé! C'est impossible!

In the métro stations there's lots of ads for space-saving furniture. "Square meters are expensive! Don't waste them!" Things like little desks with a bunk bed above and little storage drawers that you can pull out from the risers of the steep stairs you climb to get up into the bed. People are really crammed together here. Paris has one of the highest population densities in the world, even without any high-rises in the central city.

It's no wonder that they go out to the cafés and restaurants and parks so much. That's really a major part of their "living space".

Every morning during the week at about 8 am I walk down rue du Cardinal Lemoine down the hill to my métro stop to go to class. The hill is called "Montagne Sainte-Geneviève". I'm usually thinking about my day and my homework and the class coming up, not noticing my surroundings. Then I look up at the incredible view, the street, the buildings, and it hits me like a ton of bricks. So beautiful with the sun just coming up and all of Paris laid out before me, a new day starting. Remarkable.

How in the world am I going to be able to deal with everyday life back in Skokie when I return? Sigh. Not to diss Skokie, it's a nice place and all that, great for raising a family blah blah blah. But I'm sorry, it just isn't Paris.

There's a fire station that I pass every morning as I walk down the hill. The pompiers are always out in the street with their fire engines starting their day. They really are incredibly handsome. Almost makes me want to switch sides.

You really can't make it out in this picture, but way off in the distance on the horizon, above that building in the background, you can see the buildings way over on the other side of Paris, up on the hills on the far north side of the city. That street has a steeper slope than it appears to have in this picture.

My métro station on ligne 10, at the intersection of rue du Cardinal Lemoine and rue Monge.

That same battered bike is there every morning. Just to the left, out of the picture, is a wonderful little boulangerie/pâtisserie. I smell the freshly baked croissants every morning as I go down the stairs to get the train. Sometimes I get one and eat it on the train, hot out of the oven.

Takes about 20 minutes door-to-door to get to class, way over in the 7th arrondissement.

The famous Les Deux Magots on Boul St-Germain. Half of the people who pass by take a picture. This is about 10:45 am. A good time to get a table. It's packed by lunchtime.

My café and my new cookbook. Ice in the water! Quelle idée! The long skinny yellow packet is sugar. The square yellow packet on the left is a little piece of chocolate. For 4,20€ you SHOULD get ice in the water and a tiny piece of chocolate, don't you think? Heck, for that much you should get a lap dance.

The view of Boul St-Germain from my table at Les Deux Magots. How would you like to live in one of those apartments? Not bad, huh? My guess? At least a million dollars, maybe two, for some ridiculously small number of square meters. This real estate is about as prime as it gets anywhere in the world.

This is one of those tiny movie theaters I was talking about. It's on the Mouf. It's still early in the afternoon, so they aren't open yet, and I had to shoot the picture through an iron shutter. You can see my reflection. Doesn't it look funky and fun?

A poster for "Fanny" in the movie theater.

Today's wine is an inexpensive dry rosé from the Provence, a 2012 Les Domaniers Côtes de Provence. Very good. Alcoholic for sure. Two glasses and I'm ready for an old man nap.