Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Wow

People, this town is tough.  You've got to keep your standards high - even the statues accessorize.   You're a twenty-foot tall bronze statue, it's a chilly January day, what do you do?  Well, you sling on a jaunty red scarf, of course.  Like everyone doesn't know that.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Burns Night

Last night I decided to honour the Scottish half of my heritage and celebrate Burns Night.  In Paris?  Mais oui!  Scotland and France have a long history, so it's not too surprising that there are places where this celebration takes place - in fact, I'm sure that there were many more authentic versions of the event around, but because I happened to be walking past the Highlander pub, that's where I went.

It was fairly low-key, but the Scottish dancing was hilarious.  In case you've never done it, Scottish dancing is enormous fun - however, if you have too many people doing it in a very small space after too many drinks?  Total chaos.  Hee!

I was also amazed to see how many Frenchmen were there in full Scots regalia - seriously, from the collar all the way down to the shoes, every detail correct.  Very impressive.  I tell you,  a man generally doubles his hotness quotient by wearing a kilt and if you add a little French savoir-faire to the combo?  Niiiice.  Anyway, I discovered that they absolutely love it - I was chatting to a group of them and not one was wearing a rental, every single one of them actually owned this garb.  It cracks me up to think of their wardrobes - perfectly cut suits, perfectly tailored shirts, aaaaand....a kilt.  Well, pourquoi pas?

I also overheard a Scottish chap talking about how a friend of his owns a kilt shop in Paris and that he's been in business for six years and is doing well - now I can see how such a thing could be possible!

And in the spirit of all things Scottish, here's a vehicle I photographed on my street a few weeks ago; I have been saving it for the appropriate moment...


Saturday, January 23, 2010

Friday, January 22, 2010

Nightlife

Sorry about not posting yesterday - I did intend to, but it's getting toward the end of January and my hermit-like tendencies are beginning to erode away, so my landlady and her boyfriend and her fabulously gay cousin were able to drag me out again last night.  It went a little something like this:

Around 10pm, my landlady knocks on my door and asks if I want to go out with them in about half an hour to a nightclub where some friend of theirs is DJing.  I decide that the good people at Amex can damn well wait for my next payment in favour of me having a little fun right now, so I throw on some nightclub-appropriate garb and stroll out of my room, only to discover that everyone else is in sharp suits and that it's not a nightclub we're off to, it's some ridiculously posh bar - eek!!!  So I dive back into my room and change outfits faster than anyone you've ever seen - seriously, I was like frickin' Wonder Woman, it was that quick.  Biker boots off, fabulous boots on.  Skirt and top off, little black dress on.  Grabbed a tasteful necklace on the way out the door and I was done - seriously, less than a minute.  (And the only reason this was possible is that the perfect LBD happened to be hanging in my closet and for that I must thank my friend, the Glam Miss R.  Not only does she have an uncanny nose for a bargain, we have similar hourglass figures (admittedly, hers is due to a fabulous rack and mine is due to being built like a linebacker with a small waist, but whatever, tomayto, tomahto), and I know that what looks good on her usually also looks good on me, so when she found the perfect LBD in an upscale Toronto boutique for half-price, I promptly purchased one for myself as well.  So, thank you Miss R!)

Anyway, we turned up at this private party at the bar and all of fashionable Paris was there.  Here are just a few of the things I observed:
  • Off-duty models (there to make the rest of us feel bad about ourselves - mission accomplished, ladies!).
  • Intellectuals air-kissing and then back-stabbing each other.
  • A long-haired guy in a white cable-knit sweater and (I swear to you) a kilt.  And I'm pretty sure he wasn't Scottish, so I honestly have no idea what that was about, other than some low-rent homage to Highlander? 
  • A white-haired, very rich-looking tycoon type who couldn't have been a day under 60, who was there with his girlfriend, who couldn't have been a day over 20.  Of course.  I'm sure they're both in that relationship for the great conversation...
  • Gay men cruising anything that moved.  
Speaking of gay men, I must say the French ones are some biiiiiitchy queens (and as a card-carrying member of Bitches International, I say that with nothing but admiration, I assure you).  This is a conversation I had with one of them:

Him: That guy Pierre over there?  He thinks he's that writer - what's his name?  New York in the 60s, bald, short, glasses?
Me: Truman Capote?
Him: Oui.  Except Pierre is tall, French and has no talent.

 Meow!  

It was a great opportunity to people-watch and eavesdrop (two of my favourite things), and I will leave you with another conversation, which I overheard in the lounge area outside the bar (where it was quiet enough to eavesdrop properly, luckily):

Man 1 - You okay?
Man 2 -  No, my girlfriend dumped me.
Man 1 - Oh, too bad, sorry to hear that.  [Pause.]  How's your wife?
Man 2 - Yeah, yeah, she's good.
Me: !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Why not?

It was a perfectly average Wednesday - I worked in the morning and had the afternoon off, so I went to the movies and picked up some groceries.  And then, walking home from the store, I run into this:

A big old brass band, playing their little hearts out.  On a totally random street.  For no apparent reason whatsoever.  And why not?  C'est Paris!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Just a little something...

...that I get to see on my walk home from work. Feel free to hate me, I won't blame you one bit.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Paris, je t'aime... (Part 2)

Gentle readers, when last we met, I told you about my amazing Parisian day of great weather, ice-cream-eating, and witnessing a spontaneous poetry-mugging? Well, today I am going to tell you about the rest of that particularly lovely day.

After the aforementioned poetry-mugging (in all honesty, a phrase I never, ever thought I would have to come up with), I continued to wander through the city. And as I was passing by the teeny tiny rue de la Parcheminerie, what did I see but a big Canadian flag outside a shop? Naturally, I went to investigate and lo and behold, I found the best bookshop in Paris. Okay, that might be an exaggeration as I have not (yet) visited every bookshop in Paris, but it is exactly what you would want a bookshop in Paris to be. See photos above - books stacked everywhere, narrow little aisles, a charming Canadian proprietor who will give you coffee or peppermint tea while you browse, great prices and an excellent selection of things you actually want to read. I only bought two second-hand books because they don't take cards at the moment and I was down to my last 15 euros for the week (yes, down to my last 15 euros and I spent 12 of them on books, that's how starving writers stay starving), but I swear to you that within five minutes of walking in, I had spotted at least twenty books that I have always intended to read and never gotten around to. Bliss, just bliss. The Abbey Bookshop, people, put it on the itinerary for your next visit to Paris.

Following this, I strolled along the Boulevard St Germain and then went wandering toward the river, when whom should I run into but my fabulous friend Mr R? It's not that it was so great to run into him specifically (although of course it was) but to run into ANYONE I know. Seriously, I only know about five people in the entire city of Paris, so to accidentally encounter any one of them is practically a mathematical impossibility. It made me feel like such a local, and that was one seriously nice feeling to have...

Anyway, that was it for the interesting events of that day - I could make up something about finishing up the day having cocktails with George Clooney, but this blog is for things that actually happen in real life, not things that only happen in my head - sadly!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Paris, je t'aime... (Part 1)


Okay, so here's the thing. I've been having a bit of a crap time since I got back to Paris from Toronto at the end of December - a combination of the post-holiday blahs, horrible weather, a terrible New Year's Eve, having no money, and a prolonged and ferocious attack of insomnia had me pretty down. However, today cheered me up immensely and was a good reminder of why I love Paris. And it's about time, because I promise you this - no one will ever give you sympathy if you moan about how hard your life is when you are lucky enough to live in Paris. And really? That's fair enough.

It was a perfect winter day: cold and crisp with bright sunshine blazing out of a clear blue sky. A lot of places look pretty under such circumstances, but Paris? Ahhhhh, pretty is not even close to being an adequate word. Anyway, I took a walk along the river and crossed the Pont Neuf to the Ile de la Cité, meandered around there and then crossed over to the Ile St-Louis, where I treated myself to a Berthillon ice cream. I don't care if it's below zero outside (which it was) or if you're broke (which I am) - if you're on the Ile St-Louis, you eat a Berthillon ice cream, bitches. It's Paris - that's just what you do.

After wandering around the island for a little while, I decided to check out a café mentioned in my guidebook (photo above). So I got a table, ordered a chocolat chaud and relaxed. It's a tiny little place, and all the tables are very close together, so I literally had a front row seat for the following. A woman came in and sat at the table across from me. A man came in and sat at a table against the back wall. That was it - no one else around. Then a second woman entered and looked around and this is, word-for-word, the conversation which ensued between her and the first woman (they spoke in French, but I will translate for you):

Woman 1: Hi, may I ask you a question?

Woman 2: Sure.

Woman 1: Do you like poetry?

Woman 2: Ummm...yes...?

Woman 1: I've just finished writing a poem, would you like to hear it?

Woman 2 (clearly a very good sport): Okay, why not?

So she joins Woman 1 at her table, they introduce themselves to each other, and then Woman 1 RECITES AN ENTIRE GODDAMN POEM TO THIS COMPLETE STRANGER!!! I have no idea if the poem was good or not, I was too busy scalding my mouth with hot chocolate in order to keep from giggling at the whole situation. Anyway, Woman 2 (who was really kind of awesome about the whole thing), was very politely appreciative and then the two of them ordered coffees and started chatting away and telling each other their life stories. I swear to you, it was so surreal it was like being in a scene from a movie. Is this how you meet people in Paris? Just accost random strangers in cafés and start reading poems to them??? Lord, I hope not - my blogging skills might be crap but my poetry skills are a lot worse!

Anyway, my fabulous day continued its fabulosity, but you will have to tune in next time to hear about the rest of it, there was just too much to include in one post...

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Monday, January 11, 2010

Hello from the hermit

You know how a lot of people quit drinking for the month of January in order to recover from the excesses of the holiday season? Well, I do something a bit more extreme: I become a hermit. Seriously, you have more chance of seeing a hairy-eared dwarf lemur clinging to the side of Notre Dame than you do of seeing me out and about in January. This year is no exception - if anything, I have taken it to extremes for the very good reason that after spending the entire month of December having a good time on my (sadly unpaid) holiday, I took a hard look at my financial situation and...ouuuuuuch. I haven't been this poor since my student days, so it behooves me to pay off those nice people at Amex before I get to have any more fun. D'ohh.

So you've probably been wondering why I'm not posting up a storm since I'm home hibernating instead of running around Paris? Erm...well...I haven't got much to report at the moment - do you really want to hear about me lounging around in my jammies watching all four seasons of Prison Break? Because if you do, I assure you I could write about the blazing hotness of Wentworth Miller all the livelong day, but I don't really think you want to get me started on those lurid fantasies...

Anyway, having said all that, I did get dragged out on Friday night by my landlady and her boyfriend and a couple of friends of his from Brazil. Funnily enough, in all my very well-traveled and highly social life, I had never before met any Brazilian men and now I am giving serious thought to moving to Rio as I have never been drooled over so much in my entire life, (not even in Rome, when I was younger, thinner, blonder and hotter - ahhh, good times) and honestly, there wasn't a whole lot to be drooling over on this particular evening. I was looking distinctly average, and yet all I heard was how beautiful I am, how good I smell, how beautiful, how funny, how beautiful, how charming, how beautiful, how witty - you get the idea. And yes, I am aware that all this flattery was just an (unsuccessful) attempt to seduce me but let me tell you: during the cold, miserable, poverty-filled month of January in Paris, a little bit of sunny Rio sweet-talk was just the thing to cheer up this grumpy little hermit.