Entries in moving to paris (25)


The Paris Plan: 15 Rules for Living in a City of Light

Last week I mentioned that I put together a list of rules to live by while I'm in Paris. I am slightly nervous to share them--are they weird or obvious or stupid or too personal?--but these three months are all about living a little better and a little braver, so I'm sucking it up and placing them down below.

(It also makes it feel more real if I just put it out there, you know?)

My hope is these guidelines will inspire me to maximize my time here. And when that time is up, maybe they'll even help me shift the way I experience my everyday in Brooklyn.

Let me know if I've missed anything or if you have suggestions!

-The Paris Plan-

1. Create every day, whether it's via writing or taking photos. (Preferably both.)

2. There is Paris outside your window; make sure you don't stay inside too long. Be efficient and realistic, but don't miss out by overthinking your client work or by the inevitable urge to watch the "Game of Thrones" episodes you're missing back home. Winter is coming, but in this case, it can wait.

3. Listen better. Don't let iTunes substitute for the sounds of the city. When you're out, leave the ear buds at home. (Unless you're exercising.)

4. Exercise.

5. Eat. And eat and eat. This is France. Have the butter; try the cheese. Be the woman walking down the street with the fresh baguette.

6. Don't freak out if you gain 5 pounds.

7. Talk to someone in French once a day. Even if it's just to say good morning. Or hello, nice to meet you. Or "Please feed me croissants because I have committed to not freaking out if I gain 5 pounds."

8. Don't totally buy in to the stereotypical Paris fantasy. Live it. Smell it. Taste it. Appreciate what's real around you, and try not to get caught too often in the shadow of big tall towering things. Unless they are men.

9. Don't forget the men.

10. Leave the city on a regular basis. Find out if you miss it.

11. Know these numbers by heart: your passport, your Paris address and cross streets, your Paris phone number, your landlord's cell, emergency numbers.

12. Read literature about where you are. Understand why Hemingway called Paris "A Moveable Feast."

13. Wear the right shoes. Make sure they're comfortable. Walk like you know where you're going, even when you don't.

14. Embrace the unexpected. Because there will be speedbumps, and there will most certainly be cobblestones (and they're even harder to deal with if you aren't wearing the right shoes).

15. Listen, girl. Don't forget that sometimes you need to forget the rules.



Places to breathe

I thought about writing on the alarmingly high levels of smog in Paris over the weekend. I thought about writing how almost everyone I know now has a constant runny nose or a consistent sneeze. I thought about writing how it's been a little easier to lose my breath walking up and down and up and down the steps of the Metro. (Couldn't be all the bread and cheese and butter I am consuming--right?)

All I can think to write is, dang y'all, Paris looks real good in the smog.



Antiques and ham

I went to the Foire Nationale à la Brocante et aux Jambons today, which, translated into English, basically means "national antique fair and hams."

Do not deny that you would have also been intrigued.

And yes there was also ham.

P.S. I'm posting tons of pics on Instagram, too. Please come follow!



Everything is amplified

Always the dedicated listmaker, I've given myself a loose set of rules to live by while I am here in Paris. I'll share them with you sometime soon. They're mostly about encouraging myself to maximize this experience and take advantage of the very short time time I have in the city.

One of those rules I'll share right up front with you, though. It's all about avoiding something I do way too often in New York: walking around wearing ear buds, listening to music.

iTune-ing it up tends to make me, in fact, tune out. It becomes a barrier--a way to disconnect and disengage from what's around me. And I know I'm not the only one who does this. But I didn't want to miss out on the sounds of Paris by having a psuedo-soundtrack pumping through white wires connected to my big head.

I've not given in once. (Okay, it's only been a week, really, but still. It's a thing for me.) In turn, my ears feel sharper, if that's possible. I'm especially noticing how Paris echoes, as if the city's architecture was built to capture sound akin to a concert hall. [See the tall curves of the post office exterior in the post before this; check the celloist above playing in a corridor at the Louvre.]

The best sounds are coming from our apartment window. Outside the flat, there is a large passageway covered in glass, which makes it cave-like-ish. In addition to hearing the enhanced click-clacks and conversations of folks walking by, I catch lots of people singing to hear their own voice echo--kind of like you might do in the shower. I especially remember a mournful song early last Sunday morning from a couple of guys who were surely still drunk from Saturday night. They were loud enough to wake me (even though I was wearing ear plugs...the only time I am allowed to do so). Yet my first thought was, “Oh, I don’t mind. Their voices are harmonizing so well!”

As I am finding and stumbling my way through my new neighborhood, one other echo helps. There is a school adjacent to our building, as well as as small park that caters to little ones and their moms and/or nannies. Their giggles and screams and glee reverberate off the brick walls that surround our tiny neck of the woods. As soon as I hear them, I know I am home. Or at least close to it.



Small victories

Today, I managed to get some documents copied, find appropriately sized envelopes to contain them, and mail them off to the other side of the world--all without incident, embarrassment, or the breaking of a camera lens. And here was my reward: the most breathtaking post office my eyes have ever, ever seen.

I clearly need to write more letters.



Always with the anglais

I went to sleep furious with myself last night.

I slipped and fell in the street yesterday. And while I was fine, my camera was not. I had it (in its protective case, thank you) in my purse, and it plummeted with me--nose down--to the cobblestones below. I immediately turned it on and off, and everything seemed fine. But when I got it home and had a real chance to survey the scene, I found the lens had crunched up, and that the whole thing is now completely smoosh-jammed.

Major stomach punch. Major.

I am officially trying to embrace this attitude: I didn't get hurt and a camera lens can be replaced! This was not something I did on purpose and it can happen to anyone, anywhere! (Because it certainly keeps happening to ME, everywhere.) But here is my actual attitude: Oh god oh god oh god, does this mean I have to "parlez-vous anglais?" my way through a French camera store??

Since Nichole left Paris a couple days ago, I am now fending for myself. And although this is the part of traveling I like--seeing myself take on a new challenge in an unfamiliar place--I'm noticing that I'm delaying a few items on my to-do list simply due to my lack of decent French skills. (Getting a SIM card for my cell phone...printing out and mailing some documents at the post office...that sort of stuff.)

I'll get those things done--I always do--but after losing the lens last night, I blew my top. Granted, jet lag is a contributor and I'm mad that I now need to shell out extra money. But, more than that, I was stupid-angry at myself for not knowing French--a language I never learned in school (I'm the Spanish sort) and one that only crept into my mouth when I started studying it six weeks ago after we decided to come to Paris.

Obviously, it's ridiculous to feel this way. Just like tripping in the street, it's not something I have complete control over at this very moment. But I do know it's something that will get better once I start making the effort.

So I am heading to a nearby cell phone shop this afternoon to parlez-vous and s'il vous-plait my way into a SIM card. Because I can't properly communicate with my friends here in Paris without it. And lord knows I need to make a call to somebody ASAP who can tell me not only where to find a good camera shop, but also teach me how to best translate the term "smoosh-jammed."