Tuesday, August 14, 2012
Exile in Paris...guest writer: Evan
The French Revolution, fought door to door and street by street, in the catacombs of the Metro and on the ornate balconies of the past. Red wine. Not my usual weapon-of-choice. But they drink it for breakfast here, and I am trying to follow suit. We have carried out all the empty bottles, down the five flights of stairs -- Creed prefers the antique spiral staircase to the modern ascenseur that threads the stairwell like a needle through DNA. There's a basket in the apartment with 28 wine corks in it: the empty cartridges of our ongoing fusillade. Our French friends helped, of course. Dinner parties on the narrow terrace, overlooking the apartments and rooftops across the way, and rue Rambuteau far below. We pick the tiny tomatoes as they ripen, courtesy of the landlady, and dry our laundry in the cool sunlight. We eat what we buy from the bakery and the market across the street. At night you can hear the occasional siren, and the clatter of high heels through the Marais. By dawn it is quiet, with only the pigeons making noise at the windows open onto the streets and the outside air. The kids stay up till midnight and sleep until nine. As do we. Creed spent this evening finishing the "sculpture" he began last night for his "art exhibit" along the apartment's outside wall. The crowning piece was the scrap of poster he liberated from the metro while Daddy was photographing the tattered remains of another such. We want to believe that his "work" is influenced by the street art we saw displayed yesterday at the Palais de Tokyo, which claims to be the largest center for emerging/contemporary art in the world. But the fact is, the art there wasn't very good. Creed was more impressed with the skateboarders who have occupied the dead fountain plaza outside the building. Daddy was more impressed with the human excrement "installation" he saw on one of the landings en route to that plaza, suspiciously close to the skateboarders. Mommy was more impressed with her mojito at the outside cafe, as a slight refuge from the demands of Zelda, who wants access to Everything and Everywhere ... NOW! The demands of six-year-old twins against the monarchy of Mommy and Daddy. We can already feel the guillotine blade whispering to the hairs on the backs of our necks, We have determined, through non-scientific experimentation, that the kids can only handle short jaunts through the crowded streets and the maze and rumble of the Metro before they begin to melt down, usually upon arrival at some particular stimulus which we had intended to be our final destination. Thus today we survived the lines and the climb to the top of the Arc de Triomphe, only to have them whirl into screaming fits when we reached the famous carousel at Montmartre later this afternoon: "I want to ride the black horse the bouncy horse the bench the sleigh the spinning car again again again!". The attendant didn't seem to care how many times we rode, and the Sacre Coeur pigeons were eager to eat the Cheerios Zelda flung out headlong in her frustration. It got no better when we tried to break free and delve into the nearby fabric district, so that Gail could fortify her supplies for her next collection of clothing designs. Fortunately there were dozens of stores for the kids to weave in and out of, feeling the scraps and bolts of cloth. But they fought us every inch of the way. And of course, the real saving grace of Paris that there is a cafe every fifty feet, in case you need a break from the battle. And an endless supply of parks, museums, and monuments. The water fountain at the Citroen Gardens, with a hundred wet screaming children running through it. Followed by fruit sorbets served from the custom-fitted wooden bed of a 1920's Citroen convertible pickup (probably not a coincidence that the make of vehicle matched the park's patron). The Pompidou, its distinctive rooftop visible from the apartment windows, just two blocks away, where Zelda circles the gypsies playing their antique fiddles, camped on their blankets on the cobblestones. The Museum of the Hunt, a few blocks away on Rue de Archives, with taxidermy specimens including a talking boar that Creed thought was burping, and firearms so intricate that they resemble the plumbing and electrical harnesses of these ancient buildings. And I am studying those harnesses as a guide to solving our own architectural challenges at home. At the Marches aux Puces we bought an antique brass faucet, as heavy and industrial as a sledgehammer, and intended to serve in our master bathroom in the Bough House, back in Texas. If we can survive until Friday, that is.