Monday, July 27

Villette is a Parc, Rillette a Food

Hi, bonjour, bienvenue,
I am sipping Lipton tea from a Minnie Mouse mug in Alix's mom's apartment, twelve minutes away from Jim Morrison's grave. Someone told me Jim Morrison is no longer in there, is it true? I saw two teenaged girls nearly in tears at the sight of this gray stone slab and was amused. Who was Jim Morrison again? Okay, just kidding. Pere Lachaise was disappointing, overall, I just wanted to get out of there. Oscar Wilde is blocked by a tree. Gertrude Stein was barely legible. Overall too gray and corner-y and stony, nowhere to sit, or maybe I am over cemeteries. In a place like Marietta they are a refuge; you can sit in peace outside of the house without having to pay for a coffee or consume anything, no parking lots in sight, and you never run into anyone you know. There are old untouched trees, etcetera.

Alix's maman is a photographer with an amazing collection of art books, so sitting on the toilet I am trying to decipher French texts about Man Ray and Marcel Duchamp. Okay, I am looking at the pictures. Yesterday we completely ignored the Tour de France. We both dreamed about teeth, woke up at noon, cleaned up the debris from Saturday night's dinner party, I made quesadillas (!), and we walked down the boulevard, down down through Menilmontant which is a mixed neighborhood with little cafes, Indian and Lebanese and Chinese corners, halal and kosher delis, Moroccan teas, gatherings of old people standing in the promenades, little dogs wearing clothes; and down to Le Parc de La Villette, which I remembered we learned about in Professor Neumann's contemporary architecture class, but couldn't come up with the architect's name. Bernard Tschumi. There was live music, a bunch of African drummers and singers and it felt good to dance in the grass in paris in the sun, oh yes oh yes! Just a sunny sunday in Paris. There is an outdoor cinema in the summer there, starting to draw people with picnics packed on bikes and walking just as we packed up and were leaving. We walked a long time before we found La Republique, a section of the canal outlined with people eating their picnics with bottles of white wine, little bridges crossing over one side to the other, stone thinks, taking us from one trop-cher restaurant to another, until, starving at ten o'clock, we finally found a little restaurant we could afford and proceeded to eat one of the most satisfying meals of my life. Mon dieu, the French know how to make a delicious food. Duck a l'Orange and a seafood salad with a glass of Bouilly, my goodness gracious I cannot tell you how delicious.

I am becoming more and more blocked again and have only a few words to choose from, which I keep recombining. I know so I will give some pictures now. First, some drawings from Cork, since I have no photos from there. One or more thieves came into our kitchen when Jordan was visiting and took our bags from the chair where I always leave my bag, and the door unlocked. Our bags were dumped in town somewhere later that morning, with everything carefully inspected (they had opened even little notes from friends I had scattered in my journals) but left to return to us. With the exception of cameras and credit cards of course, but overall I think it was rather funny and decent of them. Anyway, here are some drawings.

Tom at his usual pasttime, no hands

our friend Alan at his, with hands

and Anton who used to live in the house there and was down for a week visiting from Dublin.

A self portrait as well.

Friday I met Alix midday at La Defense, where she works, and we took the train out to the 'burbs, which is really the countryside, where her dad picked us up and brought us to his house, a whitewashed old country house which he and his partner Sylvie have fixed up over the last year. Here is Alix and her dad at the dining table after dinner when Alix was singing and being really crazy. I couldn't even get a clear picture of her.

And here is a little corner of the room, with Alix in the mirror

Here is me at the table with funny hair!

There are two separate buildings, actually. Here is a little corner of the loft where we stayed

with another little corner set up for Sylvie's crafts. She makes furniture out of cardboard. We made oil paintings.

And I made some pretty amazing afternoon acrobatics.

And here is what you saw outside the window in late afternoon.

And there is one more thing I will show you. It is my latest acquisition, a very hilarious ratty little braid that Alix gave to me in Cork, and I love it. I love it because it is so euro and makes me feel like I totally fit in with all the really cool euro high schoolers with short punky hawks and long things in the back, mullet style. My little euro-dread. In the States, more or less what is known as a rat-tail. Thanks to Bonnie for the picture and a really nice day in Montmartre.

Wednesday, July 15

I'm Not Followin' You

Today was my first experience busking. Busking is a word I never even knew before I started traveling. It means playing music on the streets for money. Here, in Ireland in general and in Cork especially, it is kind of the norm. Seems like everyone goes out busking at least every once in a while, and on a nice day you'll see a lot of buskers around town. Maybe there are twenty of them at any given time in the center of Cork. Tom goes busking when he's a bit strapped for cash and today I joined him. I took some paper and watercolor pastels and set up a little stand next to him to make portraits of people. I only ended up getting one buyer, but I didn't expect to get any so that's all right with me. I got a fiver for it, and that helped pay for dinner! It's fun anyway. We stayed out for a couple of hours, and Tom ran through a bunch of traditional Irish songs and started in on stuff by Tom Waits and then some old blues tunes. It takes guts to belt out the song while people are just passing by, looking at the open guitar case on the ground and then quickly looking away. You can never tell who is going to dig in their pocket for a second and throw something in. Sometimes it's a young kid walking by, maybe someone who's done some busking of their own. And sometimes it's a proper-looking gentleman walking with a well dressed woman who looks foreign. We met a lot of people, and saw a lot of the Cork regulars who ramble around town every day. There are the tourists too, and a lot of them. Mostly French I think. People who are here for a couple of days with their families or partners, looking for churches and museums to go to, though honestly there isn't much to see by way of tourist attractions. We talked with a German woman and an American woman who were traveling together. They stopped to ask us directions and ended up chatting for a while. Then Luke came along, a musician and acquaintance of Tom's. He's the one who asked me to do his portrait. It turned out okay, though I had trouble doing his masses of perfect ringlet curls.

In the end we only made about twenty euros in a few hours, but it was enough to go to the English market and buy some nice veggies. I loved using these vegetables we had earned that day (well veggies Tom had earned, mostly) to make a nice dinner. Cabbage, carrots, eggplants, and tomatoes under a delicious thick peanut sauce, with fresh seedy bread and red wine. One of the things I enjoy most here is spending time cooking in the little yellow kitchen with the public radio station playing jazz tunes or classical and a constant stream of tea from the kettle. So pleasant.

Busking, however, will not sustain me! I know it is time soon to look for something more. A job or new studies or something like that. To commit something instead of floating the way I have been floating, floating for a long time now. I have too many lives to choose from. In America, I wanted to be back here, and now here I want to go back to something there. But I don't know what exactly. Next week I head to Paris for a week or so, where I'll see Bonnie and stay with Alix. At Vibes and Scribes in the used books sections upstairs, I found a little 3 euro book in French called Viou, about a little girl growing up in a small town in her grandparents' big house after the Second World War. I am really pleased that I can understand about eighty percent of the book. It being written from the point of view of a seven-year-old helps, for sure, but still. I can tell my French has steadily improved. After Paris, I'd like to go and visit Natalie (the French girl I met here in Cork back in October) in her little town on the coast in Bretagne.

But one thing at a time. This weekend, Jordan is coming back to visit! We only saw each other for a couple of hours last time, since she was in transit to Dingle. But this time she'll come and stay in the house with us and we'll get to have a really nice time roaming around town, weather permitting. We've been having a string of real Irish days, which means it is, baffingly enough, sunny and raining simultaneously. How does it work? Nobody knows. Or at least I don't. At least there are rainbows.

Thursday, July 2

I can't believe it is July

Today in Cork it is wet and gray but I feel peaceful. I went into the bookstore and looked at some nice books. Tom read a short story by Guy de Maupassant to me this morning in the kitchen, and I really liked it. I imagined printing and illustrating this little story, which is probably rarely found by anyone anymore. It was about two men in Paris who don't really know each other except that they spent the last warm season fishing in the same spot outside the city. They talked very little then, only the occasional comment on the weather which was understood to mean ''I couldn't be happier here doing this.'' Then Paris becomes occupied by the Prussians and one day the men run into one another in a street. They go to have a drink together, and then another, and decide to go fishing, despite the occupation. They walk out together to their spot and begin to fish, catching lots of little silver fish and talking about the madness of war, when they are caught and taken to see a Prussian general in a nearby cabin. He accuses them of being spies and informs them they will be dead in five minutes if they don't tell him their secret password. They say nothing. He tries again, with each individually, but they say nothing. They say goodbye to each other and are both shot, one falling on top of the other. They are dumped into the river where they caught their fish.

When I left the house, Alan was over listening to Tom playing ''Blue Skies'' on the guitar in his room. Alan looked very peaceful too, holding a mug of coffee with his old-fashioned black hat on. Rizla was sleeping next to the little stove that Tom lit even though it isn't cold out. He says it keeps the wetness out and cheers him up.

Spoke on the phone with everyone last night and it was very nice. I would like to have a day on the beach in Destin, even if it is a million degrees. I had just gotten back from Dublin, which I still don't like very much. But I made a couple of new friends there and enjoyed some pints.

Looking forward to Jordan coming to Cork tomorrow or Saturday. Not sure what to show her in this little town, but I think we will have a nice time. Should we go and kiss the Blarney Stone?

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Thinking of Ron...