Archive for November, 2008
My mother recently sent me this article. This is true, I think. I will add some of my own trickery/being-tricked-by after the passage:
“You’ve got to go there with the intention of learning life lessons. If you go there with your dukes up hoping to win the argument, all you’ll gain is their scorn, and you’ll return to the states uninspired and unchanged. Do not imagine that you know more than Paris. Paris has been put on this earth to teach us all a little humility. You bow to it; you don’t even presume to salute it. Who are you to speak as an equal to Paris? Paris is the beginning and the end, the first and the last, the yesterday and tomorrow of beauty and refinement. In Paris you learn to toss your salad seventeen times, and to peel an orange with a knife in a curvy column of rind that’s several feet long if you take the time and care. A French mother doesn’t watch her daughter grow up wishing for her to be the captain of the girls’ soccer team. A French mother schools her daughter in the delicacies of boy-girl/man-woman politics. Above all, grace. Above all, elegance. Above all, knowledge. A French mother teaches her daughter how to be her own person within a relationship (how to hold her own), how to expect and how to cause beauty.” – from “It’s Worth the Trouble” by Barbara Waterston
Wow, that article pointed to some really true things. I have been doing what she says, I have been humbled again and again in Paris like it is a difficult country line dance, but you have already found yourself out on the dance floor and you have to at least try. Most recently, Chris and I went out to a café for him to read his theorists and for me to work on my translation, on a laptop computer. I plugged in my computer and after 20 minutes the owner came over and gave me a talking to about using their outlet for electricity. She was steaming and sassy. I knew just what to do. Instead of shrink inside and feel humiliated, I pouted my lips, raised my eyebrows, shrugged and said, “I’ll unplug it then,” in the same way that you would say, “You go make the sandwich.” No skin off of my back. I left with my computer out of battery but my pride intact. I too can play their little game.
another garage sale in Paris. Zack is gone. I bundle up and head out in the rain this Saturday morning. A man out of the back of his packed car has things arranged in a heap on the table (yes, an arranged heap) and I paid him one euro for a pack of 80s looking male nudie cards (an early christmas gift for someone) that have been scribbled on in French girly handwriting. During this exchange he notices my Obama button, and says in French, “that Obama…great guy, we sure do need change over there, but I think his discourse comes off a bit stern.” I nod and I put the cards in my bag. He continues while his wife listens in: “he promises so much, and he could turn right around after all that talk once he gets elected like our president did.” He squints at me, in his garage sale clothes with his garage sale wife and garage sale table, and I nod wishing half of Americans had that much insight on the candidates as this French guy did. And then I saw a terrier in an orange polyester jumpsuit, both a shirt and pants element, get away from its owner among all the garage sale tables. He trotted along, right through a man’s dvds he had laid out on a mat. “Ho! Hoh!” dvd man yells to dog on the loose man. Dog on the loose man grumbles after polyester jumpsuit dog on the loose, who seems happy to be at a garage sale.