Monday, June 29, 2015

Day 33: Lazy Monday

I’ve been traveling in Europe for 33 days, it doesn’t feel like it. Each and every mile I’ve walked, waited and been whisked away all fall out of my mind. All I’m left with is the small moments of discovery in my constant movement. I tried to sit at a café on Saturday, I ordered a croque monsieur, a really wonderful take on a ham and cheese sandwich and a café au lait as well as sparkling water. Yet I drank too fast, sipped too easy and scarfed the sandwich. I couldn’t just slow down.

Rather than sit and spend time sitting with a book or looking at the world past by, I couldn’t wait to get up and get moving. I personally think it’s a curse for my rabid American ethic of work. I am used to multi-tasking so when I do just one thing, it feels like I'm being unproductive and wasting time.

How did I get so far away from simply stopping and smelling the roses? Taking that deep breath and just stopping? Do one thing but have it go perfectly rather than have a scatter shot method where if 4 out of 6 thing work out, then it’s a good day.

The Cough is back so again I only had 4hours at the most, of sleep. I had to run down the ladder twice in the middle of the night, I keep the windows open to get air into the bedroom, which is amazing, but the courtyard carries noises and I can imagine how my barking must have sounded like a poor wounded dog.

But my mind woke up at 7am, I think it’s a genetic flaw in my brain. Why can’t it just shut down for 8 hours? No, it has to wake up at 7am. As if despite the ear plugs, I’m instinctively aware that the world is awake and I’m missing something.

Many museums are closed on Mondays so I decided to take care of a few chores. I went to find a laundrymat, my host had a posting on the wall telling me to go to Marche St. Germain where there are many machines. I asked the landlord who is here every morning, unfortunately she doesn’t speak English. But I did get that all I had to do was walk down St. Germain and I wouldn’t miss it.

I missed the machines if they had any. I never saw it, what I did see was a dry cleaners and for  €20 they would clean my clothes and get it back to me at 5pm. The proprietress said she didn’t speak English, I don’t believe her. I think she was just cranky because I had never been in her establishment before. She had a very thin veneer of tolerance, as if she were doing me a favor.

That’s the Paris I had heard so much about. But not a universal occurrence in my experience. So I shrugged it off. I was ready to find a café, I was going to sit in the morning sun and watch the world walk by. But for what ever reason, I just didn’t find any of the cafés appealing. Instead I went grocery shopping and made myself delicious fried eggs for breakfast. Actually, it was more like lunch since it was closer to 11am at that  point.

Then I fell asleep, took a nap in the middle of the day. THAT’S what a vacation is, the freedom to just drop off to sleep whenever you want to. But I set my phone timer for 25mins, I wanted it to be a nap. But when it set off, I hit the timer again for another 25mins. When I turned my head to reach for my phone, I realized I had a nice little bit of drool on my face. It felt good, it meant, I had a good drooling nap.

But after about 5 minutes, I talked myself into getting up and going somewhere. The George Pompidou Museum was only 7 mins away on the metro, although it took me more like 15mins running around in the Halles forum(an underground mall), which, surprise surprise, was under renovation so I felt like a rat in an obstacle course.

Eventually, I got out to street level, checked my GPS and after some double tracking, I got going to the Pompidou Center. Why my GPS decided that my destination was the back of the center and not the front entrance, I don’t know. So I had an extra walk around the building, which was the size of a city block, before I finally found the front entrance.

I get that everything has to be justified with some rationale, but why must EVERYTHING be justified by retail sales? The center had several things going on at once. On one outside section on the 1st floor(all ground floors are 0, which is logical, but confuses me all the time), I saw a long line of people. There was also a section that was like a kid’s activity center.

But the museum was on the 5th floor, and even though you are inside, once you present your entrance tickets, you have to go to the outside escalators that look an awful like the play center that we used to have for our pet gerbils. Plus since it was all see through plastic, it was like the inside of a microwave, only I’m the entrée.

Eventually, I got to the 5th floor and when I entered I realized that this was a showcase for modern art. I am not a big fan of modern art. But I gave it a go, I saw names I didn’t recognize and I saw things that were being passed as art when if I were presented them, I would violently react. Such as the can of Merde, 30g of an artist’s shit. Wow, he must have been a really good talker. I like my fecal matter, out and away from me, I wouldn’t be canning them and selling it for profit, let alone art. Was this an instance of someone actually shitting gold?

I continued to explore the museum, one because it was beautifully air conditioned and two, I was there, what else was I going to do? But as I kept walking I started noticing some familiar names and it wasn’t long before I became enthralled.

The Pompidou give out free wi-fi. The place was wonderfully cool. There were no ropes indicating how close or how far(depending on your perspective) you could stand.
I turned a corner and there was a George Brecht installation. I could have reached out and touched it. I didn’t because I have respect for an artist’s work. But based on the number of employees constantly watching, I’m guessing there are people who love to reach out and touch.

There was several Picassos including another harlequin painting, I saw one at the Albertina in Vienna, or maybe the Prado, I’m not sure. But I learned that he had made several in his earlier days and had his friends dress in his harlequin costume and paint them.

I entered a gallery and there was a Jackson Pollock right in front of me.
I don’t remember ever seeing on of his paintings personally and now there were several.
There were Magrittes, Matisses and a Dali. We could take pictures and I took selfies with them, I was that close!

I was overjoyed. I’m not an expert in any of the arts, I just know what I like and what I don’t like and I enjoy my own opinion. Once I hear some tidbit of fact, I can absolutely play pretentious snob, but why bother?

I spent more time at the Pompidou than I had expected. Before I knew it, I had spent my afternoon there. Then I calmly walked out and made my way back by retracing my steps. I put away my gps and just paid attention to the signs.

Then I put myself to the test, I went to look for the laundry place without my gps on the phone. I just walked out and headed in the general direction. Which is a new skill I seem to have attained.

Before long, I found the place, picked up my laundry and headed home. My plans were to make an early dinner(big giant salad) and head out to catch an evening ride on the Seine. Once I got inside, I dropped trou and ate dinner. I had to force myself to leave the apartment again to see if I could get a medical refill on a prescription medication. But then I realized that in 9 days, I would be home anyways, so I aborted the attempt.

Instead I wandered around and finally got the chance to walk into a Gilbert Joseph. Just to clarify, I didn’t expect to come to Paris and fall in love with two men, Paul and Gilbert Joseph.

Paul is a chain patisserie and Gilbert Joseph is the Borders of Paris, except, they are still open. I love pens, art supplies, books and blank books. I have a weakness for soft leather goods and everything I had been looking for, the had, if I had only known.

I wandered in and let myself browse delighted in being in a bookstore, I’ve missed Borders and the Barnes & Noble is close to a 20minute drive from my home. I loved looking at the books and reading their French translations. Most of the titles were switched over to French, some weren’t but the full text was in French, which didn’t really help me, but it was nice to be standing in a bookstore.

So basically that was my lazy Monday, strolling around randomly and letting myself just slow down. I bought myself not one but two fedora style hats, my little cap with the pins was in the wash(which ended up the way most of my clean laundry end up, still in the bag).

Tomorrow the Musee D’Orsay is open as is the Rodin Museum, I’m still intent on riding the Seine and so we’ll see. Maybe, I’ll actually sleep tonight.


  1. Wonderful account of a wonderful trip! Love the Mondrian. He was a madman!

    1. There is no genius without a touch of madness. Thanks for taking the time to read this!