Notes from Paris 2

I'm still a little tipsy as I write this, the level of difficulty is compounded by this alien keyboard, so I will do my best.

We never ended up at the Picasso Museum, that's for another day. No, we ended up at the Louvre. I gotta say, never before have I seen such a magnificent homage to Western civilization. All the classics, acknowledged as inspirations for modern society on this side of the globe, were there in all their preserved glory: Egyptian, Greek, and European. All the pieces were displayed in massive, nausea-inducing halls, adorned with rich murals and relieves. I was dizzy most of the time. I spent a good ten minutes staring at the Mona Lisa. That bitch has a lot to answer for.

Yesterday, we ran a marathon. After meeting T for coffee at the train station (imagine those pictures of grandiose steel and glass structures for Victorian photos) before she departed for London, we returned to our room to rest up for our "bookworm" tour. This comprised of seeing Hemingway's old digs, a hotel and bar Ginsberg and Kerouac frequented, Shakespeare and Company book shop (both the new location and the original, whose founder edited, retyped and published Ulysses), James Joyce's pad, Picasso's studio, and a whole bunch of cool book shop. I found my favourite, called "The Modern Look" in English. Inside the cramped, tiny store were hundreds of books on trashy films, comics, deviant literature and of course, the Beats.

Then, after nibbling on crèpes (with tomatoe, lettuce and salty feta) and gelato (frankly, the best gelato in the known universe) we did the most tourist-y thing imaginable: we ascended the Eiffel Tower. Nice view. I'm not so good with heights, especially on human-made structures, but you know what? I did alright. Paris is one of the largest cities I've been to, the urban landscape just stretches out until it fades in the horizon. Even as we walk the cobbled streets, the roads, bordered by lines of sagging, old buildings, continues like a maze one is hopelessly lost in.

I hate ending sentences with a preposition.

We also boarded a boat that sped along the Seine, with some narration on landmarks and history. We quickly checked out Pigelle and swung by Moulin Rouge, which is like a watered down Bourbon Street. We made the last train home.

Now, I'm having trouble logging onto to my actual blog, is anyone else? Just email me.


More Later

Since I have nine minutes left on the computer, a quick update will follow.

After waking up a little late and having a shower in a bathroom that resembled one found in Beirut circa 1992, we had delicious tartelittes then café noir at the bar (which is cheaper than sitting down) and now we're off to the Picasso museum and the bookworm walking tour, which exhibits some of the literary landmarks in Paris. Our new hôtel is located in Marais, just across the street from the hôtel de ville and overlooking a bustling, downtown street.


and. . .

I should briefly mention how amazing the food is in Paris. Yesterday I had risotto forestier, very creamy with nuggets of earthy, buttery wild mushrooms inside the dish. We had a baguette with crusty goat cheese and a lively white wine in our hotel room, then I passed out.

Oh, in my comment to Bo, it is properly spelled petit déjeuner.

Notes from Paris

It is cloudy today in Paris. Little flecks of rain hit my face, but I completely ignore it. I have been taking notes, and I want to draw some sketches and scribble more notes. I've been trying to finish a poem. Some of what I have so far:

The train into Paris followed a track that cuts along an overgrown, littered passage that looks neglected. We cut across highways, mysterious, large buildings with colourful smokestacks, then we pass into darkened tunnels to the underground, into the metro stops made up from oddly matched tiles: yellows, pinks, and grays.

The problem of writing about Paris, or using Paris as a backdrop to a story, is the mechanical problem of capturing the enormity of the city and the multitudes that intersect with one another. The city is a massive lattice, like the metro, but with more stations and tracks and far too many intersections. Paris is not a horizontal city, like most Canadian cities that spread over a stretch of land. Paris is vertical, or, the lattice is built upward, making it dense and concentrated. Paris thrives on the layers left behind by history.


Salut, mes amis.

After a fifteen hour flight we made it to Paris. We are very, very tired. We already checked in before noon, and we spent the day wandering around, taking pictures and hanging out at a café. Unfortunately, I have no idea how to upload photos from this computer. Hell, I have trouble using this bloody keyboard with its fancy French configurations. The rest of the evening will consist of eating in our room and catching up on much needed sleep. Some observations so for:

1. The French are not really that rude.
2. Paris is huge, and old.
3. The Metro is confusing. Somehow, we landed in the middle of a massive mall and got lost. I was half expecting a minotaur lying in wait for us. The building was made up of sweeping, concrete arches and coloured glass.
4. Cafés in France kick royal ass. Canada has much to learn. One can sit at a bar and sip brandy and read the daily. I worked on a poem.
5. You cqn go into a supermarket and buy bandaids, cheese and wine.
6. The city hall here is made up of at least six Vancouver city halls. Seriously.

The streets are crowded and congested. Sirens wail every twenty minutes, often from little police cars shuttling plain clothes police officers. Soldiers with archaic machine guns patrol the airport. Dogs hang out in bars. On the train from the airport a man sat down and belted out a few tunes from his accordian. I spoke a little French. More to come after I sleep.


More painting rags for me

Tomorrow morning L and I will be on a plane to France. I'm finishing up the laundry and brushing up on my French (particularly ordering food) and I will be eventually heading out to hang with Mr. E. My week was a little stressful: I was deregistered from my courses because I missed the payment deadline. I had to rush to get my classes back and pay for them on Thursday, all within a ten minute window! Registration opened again at 4 PM, but the registrar's office (where I pay for all of this) also closes at 4 PM. How bloody convenient. I will miss the first day of classes anyway, due to being in France and all. I had to contact my profs to get permission to be absent, or else I lose my seat again. This chore is done. Sort of. At least my interior life isn't boring.

When I'm in France I will update as I go and upload photos from Flickr.



Last night I burned my thumb while I was draining pasta in the kitchen sink. Ouch. Nonetheless, nothing is better than pasta with cheese (two kinds even), olive oil and black pepper at midnight.

Last week was ca-ra-zee. I am a free man as of last Friday. My two exams are finished (they both went swimmingly) and my English paper is finished. On Saturday I had to get up a 5 AM to catch my ride to Bothell, Washington for the Pacific Northwest Writing Center Association conference. My co-workers and I were the only Canadians present. The seminars were interesting: the one on generating ideas using play was insightful, and the other on acknowledging accents in writing as well as speech got my attention. I also attended two seminars on critical thinking, and writing an exploratory paper (one with no thesis) to examine all perspectives of an issue or idea. The food was decent. There was, you guessed it, lasagna for the veggies in the crowd. I was up for a little over 17 hours. I was tired all through Sunday too.

L and are going to Paris on Sunday. I'm still a little ambivilant about the trip, as the whole "I don't speak French very well and nothing will go smoothly" scenario plays in my head. I understand that not every travel experience will be perfect, but it is intimidating to enter a country where you are the alien. Although, lately, I've found it hard to be excited about anything.

Ah, I played the Lord of the Rings board game with C last night. The presentation is incredible, and there were moments when the game got very exciting. I tend to yell and cheer when I play games, much to C's dismay.

I was never a Nine Inch Nails fan, but that Trent Reznor has garnered some respect from yours truly. He released a song online through Garageband, and users can dowload it and tinker with the song. You can get it here.

Things to do this week:

1. Get my school fees taken care of.
2. Send in student loan form.
3. Do my taxes.
4. Contact my profs, since I won't make the first day of classes.
5. Get play ready for feedback.
6. Finish article.



I am finishing up the last of my schoolwork: studying for my exam tomorrow at eight in the morning(!) and my English final. L and I decided to fly to Paris on the 24th for a ten-day jaunt. We bought the tickets this afternoon (as I watched the Travel Cuts agent crop our photos to fit the International Studnet cards. They way her hands moved as she circumscribed each photographs' edge was odd, the slim, firm paper seemed to rotate on its own as the white background around our heads and our shoulders were peeled off like an apple skin. Her desk was littered with little rectangles. The whole scene had me thinking) and we also picked up the Lonely Planet guide. I know, it's so touristy! But, it's not like we know anything about the city and where to stay and eat. Lonely Planet is good for that; it includes the really cheap places, unlike Frommers where, like, the super-expensive places are given a one dollar sign (like so: $) to denote "affordable." Bite me.

My last day of work is on Friday, not Thursday like I was led to believe. Yes, I know, I led myself. No need to get so bitchy.

What I want:

1. iPod Shuffle
2. Digital camera (the H family camera is here again, so L and I playing with it and may bring the bad boy to Paris with us)
3. Complete works of H.P. Lovecraft, for a future project
4. Books detailing the history of Palestine and Israel
5. More money for comics

And, I'm heading down to Seattle again to attend a conference for writing tutors. Myself, plus four other co-workers, are being driven to the University of Washington to attend the seminars and, you guessed it, eat tons of free food! And spend American dollars! Duty-free! I'm putting on a ten-gallon hat and shooting red wine out of turkey basters!


If I were a storTrooper

Originally uploaded by Decepticons Attack!.

My hair colour isn't quite that brown, but the site has a sad selection for hairstyles. The good people (person?) who have brought back the beloved storTroopers have neglected to represent the diverse hairstyles within contemporary society. The storTrooper site is filled with prejudice, and hate.

Okay, maybe not.

the titles come when they can

Originally uploaded by Decepticons Attack!.

Our neigbourhood is beginning to warm up. The trees' pinkish blossoms are pulling themselves out their buds when no one is looking. Our wet streets look as though they've been splashed with golden paint at dusk, then soften to cool, dark tones as the sun shrinks. At dusk and dawn, the colours and textures of the world become complex. Shadow and light dance together, and everything just looks richer, or they have more substance then they normally would, like a face in candlelight. Now, I got some of the house cleaned up. Yay.

The six hours will be spent on review for the exam tonight, and my semester officially finishes on Thursday. My prediction was pretty accurate: this semester ended with a whimper as opposed to a bang. I need to finish the article (the bastard is one hundred words over the limit) and the English paper by Thursday, so the blog entries will be rather sparse until then. I will start fencing again next Tuesday, and I'm giving my play over to a dramaturgist for feedback inbetween the semesters. I'm also going to hunt out more possiblities to write about comics and to submit poetry.

Yeah, L took the above picture.



I'm currently in Chilliwack! We arrived yesterday to celebrate L's dad's birthday, which is today, but I spent all of yesterday in the farmhouse working on my English paper and getting my next article ready. The Other Press slows down during the summer and only releases a few issues over the three months. Really monsterous issues, of course. So, I'm going to write a couple of articles rather than just the one. I did get a lot of work done, and L and I met Nicky and scratched her belly. We also visited the cows (L fed them oat grass and petted their huge, wet noses) and wandered around the farm. Dinner last night was great: lasagna (again, this dish makes an appearance) and garlic bread, and M and I finished off the pig keg on the kitchen counter. Rude jokes ensued.

I'm coming home tonight to work and tidy up the house.


Let Spring Burn a Hole

Originally uploaded by Decepticons Attack!.

I will be crawling into bed, although I had enough coffee in the last 12 hours to stun an elephant. I'm very excited. I wonder what work will be like for the last week, will anyone come in to ask for help? I'm happy either way. Some folks I helped out this semester have moved on, and I'm really happy about that. It's always nice to meet for the last time though, and get a sense of the individual's progress and witness the improvements they made over the few months coming into the Centre. I'm also glad it's April; more photos can be uploaded and plugged into the blog.

Even other people's projects are exciting: magazines, websites, books, comics, motorcycles, houses, relationships - the list is endless.

I do want school to finish so I can relax and get some writing done. I finished the fencing classes this week, so we're moving onto the "intermediate" levels. Meaning, more bouts and one-on-one coaching. The community centre around the corner offers Shaolin kung-fu (or wu-shu) for $25 a month, or something like that. It's dirt cheap, anyway. There's another style offered too. L and I are going to check it out, while I take aikido on Saturdays. The plan is to take the class in the morning, then help out L at the Farmer's Market.

Just for clarity, L's folks work on a collectively owned organic farm, and they sell their produce in the summer. L works there whenever she gets a chance. I've been out there a few times, I'll take some photos and share them. Next door to their farm lives the sweetest dog in the world, named Nicky. She is very affectionate and loves living in the country, and everytime she sees L Nicky runs across the field, which is pretty remarkable beacuse (a) she is not a young dog anymore and (b) she was hit by a car recently. Nicky is awesome. The farm is very peaceful and I always enjoying spending time there.

Good morning.

The Clean-Up

L constantly reminds me how much she detests how all my user names begin with a "j" then a "_" followed by some silly moniker like "bot" or "x-ray." I think it softens her heart to know someone so utterly out of touch with digital culture.

So, some news. I'm writing semi-regularly about comics for the student paper. I wrote my first article, an enormous 300 word beast, on Paul Chadwick's merits and the gimmick-laden marketing schemes in the industry. I don't mind if writers dream up a strange, labyrinthine story to draw in new readers, it just needs to be a decent one. Sometimes it seems publishers forget that comics are a story-telling medium. I also want to cover some resturants (those within a student's budget) for the paper. Maybe some book reviews too. Ah, books.

Today I hung with C: picking up comics, playing games at Drexoll, then eating pasta and watching Clone Wars at C and Ca's house. Thank you for making the pasta Ca, because the pasta was awesome. Tomorrow will see me working on my English final and gearing up for my article, as well as putting together my presentation for work on Friday.

The Pope passed away yesterday. I'm still processing the event.

Also, Robert Creeley died on April 1st. I think he would have wanted it that way. I just started to familiarize myself with his work.

Today, at 7:30 AM, I registered for three courses. English literature from the 14th to the 18th century, philosophy (reality and existence) and introduction to fiction writing. I'm still waiting for a reply from scholarship foundations and UBC. That means I'm still a nervous mess.

I'm enjoying Pirates of the Spanish Main, Warren Ellis's feeds (who does feed that man anyway?) or just generally cruising the net for news. I'm looking for a site for English nerds who want to discuss literature and writing, mostly poetry. I know there must be message boards for enterprising writers. I want to check out Poetry Critical, or other related sites.

It is late but the city is early.