Saturday, February 05, 2005

Crazy Day After A Crazy Night

Thursday, Feb. 3, 2005

Yesterday evening the plumbing repair went on and on, and finally Tony -- despite his earlier optimism and growing determination -- left at 9 p.m., with a promise to be back in the a.m. with parts. So I packed a bag and walked to Dale's place, just a few blocks away. Took a (long, hot, luxurious) shower there, then joined the Sisters of St. Tongue around the table for something like (Dale's version of) jambalaya, wine, lots of chocolate afterwards. Adrian was there, and Sonya; Sylvie and Eva and Carolyn ("Howdy, Pardner!") Bazzini; Melissa showed up fashionably even later than I did. We talked politics and sexual politics and power and what's-becoming-of-teenaged-girls-in-America-now? And I stayed late, talking to Dale after the others had left, came back after midnight to the apartment, which was in post-Tony disarray, but I couldn't clean it up, couldn't even run any water.

Finally dozed off about 3 a.m. and woke to the doorbell at 8:45. The housekeeper had come, at last. (I'd been expecting her all Wednesday morning, had even risen early to be ready for her visit, so I was already a bit annoyed.) Why was she speaking so loudly -- so un-French! -- and why coudn't I understand her? And why was she smiling so broadly, almost laughing? Was it my attire -- Erica's big gray bathrobe, white socks and glittery slippers, my hair in two braids sticking out from my head a la some demented hag Pippi Longstocking? I got Brad on the phone to translate. Fernanda -- Portuguese, it turns out -- had had a doctor's appointment yesterday. Well, she couldn't do anycleaning when she couldn't run water, and I did't want to have to sort the mess out myself, once Tony finished, or wait till the following week for Ferenanda to return and get the apartment back in order. So, after much gesturing and some negotiations, Fernanda agreed to come back at 10:30.

At 10:15 I was making coffee (with bottled water) when Tony called, on his way with the part. He and Fernanda showed up at my door within a few minutes of each other. I had taken out the pigtails but hadn't yet dressed. I apologized for the way I'd behaved earlier, and Fernanda smiled and urged me to "rest tranquille." Then she and Tony went to work: crawling under the kitchen cabinets, checking out pipes and gutters from the balcony, loudly bemoaning the state of French plumbing, etc. At 11, I decided I'd better get dressed. Brad showed up a few minutes later. By then, all the drains were draining and the apartment was immaculate. A miracle for 63 euros. Mr. Turnley got very lucky, I think. But there was still my laptop to deal with -- the screen had started flickering wildly the night before and now it refused to boot up at all. I talked to Jenny Huxta, found out about a place near Beaubourg that does repairs, packed everything up and headed out.

Walking down rue St. Croix des Brettoneries (St. Cross of the Buttonery is what I call it) I saw a man actually picking up his dog's poop with a plastic bag. In France! But maybe he wasn't French? There was a woman standing off to the side, watching him with a look on her face of utter heartbreak and disbelief. A few steps farther down the sidewalk, another woman was getting off of her motorbike, taking off her helmet, shaking out her hair. She was wearing blue four-inch stilleto heels and neon green stockings under jeans rolled up to mid-calf. Remember where you are, I told myself. And decided to smile, square my shoulders, try to reclaim my inner je-ne-sais quoi.Then there was handsome Jimmy, from Guadaloupe (always wear your best sweater and lipstick when going to talk to tech guys) telling me that my mother board was shot, and it could take a month for the repair. Looks of despair, gentle begging. Finally he gave me the address of a place on rue de Turennes that might be able to do it in two weeks or less. (Though he tried to convince me, first, that I should just upgrade to a new G4, and he could transfer all my files to that almost immediately. Would that I had a few thousand euros tospare right now.)

So, on to the metro, to the 6th, to Jeff's for lunch. His tales of his sister-in-law's battle with cancer put my little problems right into perspective. We ate salad and bread and cheese and ham, while Lilith the cat slinked across the table between us, occasionally landing in my lap. We talked about what we're writing, what we want to write, how impossible it is to know if the work you do has any merit. And we laughed really hard, as we always do; and, as always, I forget what it was that made me laugh so hard. So, back to the Marais again... Waiting for the 96 bus on rue de Rennes I bought a postcard for Carine -- Sarah Bernhardt in black and white, with the caption, "Point n'est besoin d'etre jolie, il faut le charme." ("No need to be pretty, charm is the thing.") I still had my laptop in a shopping bag. I was still wondering, as I had wondered and would continue wondering for the rest of the day, what it is about beauty here; how it is that humans go around as if they feel beautiful, beautifully human, even old as some of us are. I kept wondering what had become of the feeling I used to have when I flew through these streets with my coat unbuttoned, sure that love was around the next corner, or at least some grand adventure was.

I got off the bus at the Place des Voges and walked up rue de Turenne until I finally found the computer place, "Aldorande" -- after much wandering around a courtyard next door, unmarked doors and misleading street numbers. The young man who greeted me -- alone in the shop -- said, "of course," when I asked if he spoke English. He also spoke, in addition to French, German, but bemoaned that his Danish had gotten rusty. He looked at my laptop and nodded his head: yes, it was the motherboard -- or more specifically, something in the video card, which is attached to the motherboard -- a problem this model has had from the beginning, so Apple would repair it for free. HOWEVER, he told me that Apple had closed some service centers in France, so the repair would take three weeks to a month. I considered whether crying would be effective with this guy, but decided against it. Instead I told him that I was a writer, all my work was on that hard drive, I'd lose so much time and money and ... He called his "chief" and got the okay to put an "express" order on my beautiful machine, so I should have it back in ten days, two weeks at the most. Merci, Guillaime.

I was just around the corner from Adrian's place by then, and Adrian had had the brilliant idea that I could use Erica's old iMac desktop while my computer was in the shop. Heading down rue Saintonge, I passed Adrian's favorite papeterie, and decided to go in and buy a notebook, since I might have to resort to writing by hand -- which might not be a bad thing, temporarily. But of course the only notebooks they had were notebooks with those little grids on every page, because the French "adore" them, the proprietor (a charmingblonde man) told me, because they learn to write with these grids in school, and to make every letter the perfect proportion by fitting each letter into one square. I told him that I was a writer, a poet, and that such perfection made me too nervous to write. He searched and searched for a notebook with blank pages or lines. I finally said I'd take one with the grids. He wouldn't have it. He put his hand over his heart and insisted he couldn't bear knowing it might have an advserse effect on my writing. He went into a back office and came out with a stack of blank paper, which he gave to me. Wouldn't take money. "Ecrivez bien!," he said. I thought he was going to kiss my hand, too, but he didn't. Just laughed. Even when they're only kidding, the French are so passionate.

Adrian was in her pre-travel frenzy -- getting ready to leave for a conference (and then Mardi Gras) in New Orleans in the morning. But she stopped what she was doing to help me load Erica's computer onto a set of wheels. We wrapped it up in an old beach towel, wrapped bungee cords around the wholething, tried "bumping" it down the stairs -- four flights, pas d'ascenseur -- butI finally picked it up and carried it in my arms like a well-fed dog. In her courtyard, we loaded it back onto the cart and I was on my way. It was much easier than I'd expected to wheel the computer through the Marais -- you always see people hauling strange cargo around in ingenious ways here -- and I got it back to rue des Guillemites without incident. Set up the computer --- which seems monstrous, and so ORANGE, after my little iBook -- and immediately got online to deal with the backlog of e-mail. (I'm begging people NOT to send me too many messages in the next few weeks.) And it's working, mostly -- freezes up from time to time, which means I have to shut down, have a bit of chocolate, and then reboot. But there are worse things. Et voila.

4 Comments:

Blogger Brain Storms said...

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11:45 AM  
Blogger Brain Storms said...

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11:47 AM  
Blogger Brain Storms said...

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11:48 AM  
Blogger Brain Storms said...

Posted by: Youlanda at 11:45 AM
Good day sweetie,

As the adventures and the crisis' occuring while your in Paris, remember you're in Paris. A place that foster, patience, relaxation, great night life, and plenty of reflextion time. Enjoy all your adventures, savory them like your desire to consume chocolate.

As the crisis' try to remember it's not the end of the world because it's not. It's just the end of your world, or so you think. While you're in Paris, try to think of these likes crisis' as lessons, a breathers, or moments of ordered chaos. LIFE HAPPPENS WHILE YOU'RE PLANNING.

You are programmed to believe that crisis' are permanent fixtures or obsticles that must be moved immediately. Remember, how quickly we get to point A to B is not important, it's the process. Learn how to love the process of life. It is the true process of writing, reading, loving, falling in love, sex, making love, and just plain being.

The unvierse wants you to slow down, take more deep breathes, smile more, stop thinking your way through everything and allow your heart to lead you to where you mind longs to be. Your heart and your mind are one. Sometimes, if one is speaking to loudly, it can't hear athe other. So, quiet your mind, listen to you heart, go with the flow and be careful of the currents. They seem to be coming on like a slowly unbuttoned blouse, but they're coming more like a heartache.

Don't be in such a hurry. You want things quick, fast, and just the way you like it. The other ways of doing things that are more pleasurable, less stressful, and more rewarding. Don't fall so deeply into disappointment when things don't go your way. Don't allow everything to hit you like a car crash. Allow it to hit you like the scent of a seductive flower or like the moon slow tongue on your bare back.

Slow down baby
you're going to fast,
you got your hands in the air
and your feet on the gas,
you 'bout to reck your future
running from the past,
you better
slow
down
baby

11:57 AM  

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