Hey, Alex is home! I don't have to talk to myself in the evenings anymore! We sure did miss him. When he stumbled in the door, all he wanted was sleep. But we pinched him when he dozed off and demanded he entertain us with MORE stories from home.
Now I can return to slow mornings with Camille, both of us in our jammies and one drinking a ton of coffee. (I've told her she should cut back but she just waves me away with her jittery little hands)
The friend interview went well on Friday. I like her even though I think she LIES.
She suggested we meet in the middle of the Place des Vosges and I was more than happy to do so; I haven't been there in awhile and its perfect symmetry and squareness makes me feel safe. I could spot her a mile away, wearing the bright colors of an American amidst the sea of Frenchie black and gray.
Place des Vosges
San Francisco Mom has only been here a week and is enveloped in the "What the hell just happened?" haze. Her first question to me was "How do you keep up with all your laundry? The washing machines are so TINY." I told her I keep up by more or less devoting my entire life to laundry, doing at least two loads a day and scheduling all other events around our need for clean socks. It's not a glamorous life but you do what you have to do when your washing machine is the size of a breadbox.
I liked her. But then I asked her where she lives and that's when the LIES began. She said, "I live here, on the Place des Vosges, like right there" and pointed at one of the perfect buildings.
"Yeah, right." I said. "And I live in the Louvre. And on top of the Arc de Triomphe. My summer home is in the bell tower at Notre Dame. Ding dong, ding dong, all summer long..."
She said, "No, really. I live right there" and pointed again. This cannot be true, thought me. No one really LIVES on the Place des Vosges, do they? Place des Vosges is a tourist attraction, (it's a perfect square, huzzah!) not a real place. It's a place to dazzle vacationers carrying expensive cameras, not a place for grocery hauling and toilet scrubbing.
Yes, I know Victor Hugo lived there for a time but surely the city made an exception for him. I assumed they were keeping the rest of the stately buildings unoccupied, for when kings and queens come back into fashion and need somewhere to live.
Anyway, she still claims it's true but I am suspicious and will eye San Francisco Mom narrowly until I see her apartment for myself.
It's funny how you come to accept the way things are. It takes about a year, but eventually the craziness just feels like everyday life. Take the grocery store, for instance. The grocery store and I made peace long ago, even though shopping continues to border on chaos. I've learned to only go at certain non-peak hours of the day. If it's approaching the mid-day or evening rush, I don't go near the place.
As I walked through the grocery store last week on stocking shelves day, I realized I'd never taken a grocery store picture. Here's a picture of the widest aisle. This was taken at a non-peak hour, super early in the morning. Picture it with about a hundred more people, grumpy and pulling shopping caddies, in just this aisle alone and you'll get a sense of the hell that awaits you if you wander in stupidly at noon. You WILL trip and fall on those stacked boxes of yogurt (at least, that's what I'll do).
All I had on me was my iPhone and I was trying to be subtle so forgive the poor composition and quality. This next picture, however, is blurry for a much more awesome reason. Just as I took the picture, I was PUSHED OUT OF THE WAY by an employee passing behind me with a large box. And that is why I love this picture above all others. It sums up my sad feelings on grocery days.
We celebrated American Mother's Day (Frenchie Mother's Day happens at the end of the month) in the traditional way. You know, by visiting a cemetery. I am by far at my happiest in Paris when I'm out and about seeing something I haven't yet seen. So for Mother's Day, when Al asked me what I wanted to do, I said, "Let's go see Serge Gainsbourg's grave at the Montparnasse cemetery!" I'm not sure why the saccharine Mothers Day holiday made me think of the very un-saccharine Serge Gainsbourg. Maybe it's the public drunkenness?
As we walked towards Montparnasse, Alex watched in awe as I aggressively pushed the stroller through the crowds on the sidewalk. He gasped as I charged across the street on a red light. He worked hard to keep up as I maneuvered through the neighborhood at lightning-fast speed. Then he said, in his impressed voice, "My God, you're so PARISIAN now." He thought I was a red hot mama in that moment but, baby, that's just my day-to-day.
We were happy to finally pay our respects to Serge; he's close to both our hearts and not just for that one song with all the moaning. Little known fact about Serge is he was born with a different name, an incredibly awesome name according to us. Our man Serge was born Lucien Ginsburg. I wonder if anyone ever called him The Loosh.
His grave is covered with cigarettes and used metro tickets. The cigarettes were obvious but the metro tickets? What's the deal with that? Did Serge regularly find himself a few tickets short when out and about in the city? Did Serge have a used metro ticket fetish? (who doesn't?) Are the visitors to Serge's grave just a bunch of litterbugs? Our theories were plentiful.
(As an aside, did you know if you come home and Google "used metro tickets on Serge Gainsbourg's grave" you will actually get an answer within 2.5 seconds?! I love you, Interwebs.)
((As an aside to the aside, the answer is it's a tribute to one of his earlier songs, Le Poinconneur des Lilas in which he sings about being a ticket puncher at a metro station.))
The rest of the cemetery was a hoot, as cemeteries tend to be. We saw the graves of Sartre and Beauvoir, two people I often picture sitting at Les Deux Magots whenever I pass by. (In my mind they are holding long cigarette holders and wearing oversized furry hats). We saw the famous Brancusi sculpture, The Kiss, right next to a sign telling us the sculpture was under surveillance. As soon as I knew we were under surveillance, I couldn't enjoy the sculpture anymore. I could only scan the buildings and treetops for cameras because I don't like being looked at when I don't know where the lookin' is coming from.
Stop watching me. I ain't gonna touch the dang statue.
Charles Pigeon's tomb wins the prize for the creepiest but most awesome tomb ever. We loved it.
When Al and I die, please, someone, build us a tomb just like this but put remote controls in both our hands. And put me in a "Team Building Exercise '99" t-shirt. Alex asks to be in his underwear and wearing a Viking helmet.
You know, I should really stop trying to buy things on Mondays. Almost everything's closed on Monday and I just end up walking around fuming. Everything's closed on Sunday, too, but it never stops me from wandering around trying to buy stuff on that day, too. I think it's official -- I will never, ever learn.
She was an ARCTIC WOLF hee hee hee,