Monday, May 28, 2007

The Lost Sock Mystery

No, this isn't about losing socks at the laundermat. It's about the lost socks I've been seeing around Paris lately - three in one week! Now, lost gloves I understand (see my friend Jill's lost glove site for loads of examples). But how, exactly, would one lose a sock - especially in the Paris metro? I've thought of all sorts of scenarios (most of which I can't print, since this is a family blog), but have not been able to come up with anything more plausible than this: someone did a load of laundry, brought it home on the metro (the very thought makes me tired), and a sock fell out. Later, some thoughtful passerby picked it up and hung it over the rail, hoping that the person who lost it would come back for it.

Any other ideas? I have a nice single wool/poly sock for the winner...

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Giant Moth Invades Paris!

Scotland has their Loch Ness monster, the Pacific Northwest has their Bigfoot, and now Paris has the Giant Moth (le Grand Papillon de Nuit).

Et voila, la preuve - an actual photograph taken from my window.

Friday, May 25, 2007

La Vie en Rose

It's truly amazing how many "hidden" parts of Paris there are, that aren't really hidden at all, but just ever so slightly off the beaten track. This rose garden, for example, which I stumbled onto while looking at an apartment with a friend in the 3rd arrondissement. Chances are I might never have the occasion to go there again - Paris is that dense, with new layers to discover every day. Years will pass before I'll remember to go back to a place I liked, and then I'll kick myself that I didn't go sooner. A moveable feast, indeed.

Stormy Weather

Black clouds over Paris...and lightning coming down in great, many-pronged forks...May has been a much more temperamental month than April, that's for sure. Time to turn off the computer and make a thick stew!

Monday, May 21, 2007

Clouds Above Bastille

I've been looking at real estate prices again (what can I saw? old habits are hard to break), and I'm amazed at how high the prices are in the 4th arrondissement around Bastille, which is less than 2 miles away from where I live. Example: a 17 m2 studio (that's less than 200 square feet!) is going for 130,000 euros - not counting the renovation work needed. Hard to imagine this area hosted an old decrepit prison at one time.

(Tho' it's too bad we can't jail whoever designed that opera house - that's right, the ugly, un-graceful bathroom-tile thing you see hulking in the background).

Sunday, May 20, 2007

A Humble Still Life...

...just waiting to be painted. Those are Kusmi teas in the tins (a yummy brand I discovered last Christmas), and one of my orchid paintings (part of the "fragment" series - in process).

Saturday, May 19, 2007

To Market, To Market... buy a fat pig? No, I'd rather have chard, cukes, basil, and grapefruit (those are unsprayed grapefruit BTW - quite a different taste and texture than the "normal" ones).

Friday, May 18, 2007

Line Dance, Anyone?

Here you can see a bit more of "those guys" - there is a whole row of them continuing on the other side of the building as well! Click on the image to enlarge; you really need to see it bigger to get the full effect (I'm pretty sure they're sculptures of men - what do you think?).

Who are Those Guys?

Among the more jarring sights on my walk the other day were the sculptures on this building. Couldn't quite figure out what, who, why, huh??!? You've got to wonder what they were thinking while drawing up those plans. Interesting side note: the ground floor of this building is a police station.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

An Oasis in Paris

Just when I thought I couldn't stand one more minute of concrete city life, a friend took me on a walk along an incredible suspended garden called the Promenade Plantee in Paris' 12th arrondissement. Amazing! Rows and rows of lavender framed by rosebushes, birds singing, and (incredibly) empty, clean benches to sit on with nary a dog merde in sight. You are literally suspended in space and time, giving new meaning to the term "above it all."

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Raindrops on Rooftops

Yet another view from out my window...the rain made crazy patterns today (click on image to enlarge).

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Happy Mother's Day!

(Bouquet of flowers compliments of Bar Fleur's, the place that's showing my paintings right now.)

Fire in the Sky

We looked out the window yesterday and saw black smoke rising over the rooftops: fire in a fabric warehouse near Gare de l'Est. Luckily no one was hurt. But I'm reminded, once again, to install a smoke alarm. Considering the age and condition of many of the buildings in Paris, it surprises me that this is not a mandatory safety law. But it isn't.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Speaking of Politics...

...the other night I (re) watched William Karel's documentary, Le Monde Selon Bush (The World According to Bush). "Blood-chilling" doesn't even begin to describe the effect this film has on the viewer.
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Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Blogger Night on Video

For those of you who are dying to see what the aforementioned (overly mentioned?) blogger evening was like, you can check out this video. I think I'm in there somewhere, looking very earnest and hardworking (amazing how easy it is to fool the camera!)

(The photos is of France 24's headquarters.)

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Blogging Begets Blogging!

I can't seem to stop blogging these days. It must have been that blogging immersion night, being in a room with all those other bloggers. You know, peer pressure and all: "Everybody else is doing it"! I'm sure I'll calm down and go back to my laid-back, Toulouse-Lautrec style, once the fervor has worn off and I start remembering that there are, um, other things to do in life besides blog.

Speaking of life - one of the things that I noticed among some of my fellow bloggers was a keen interest, if not outright religious zeal, for an online game (or whatever) called Second Life, shown in the bottom screen of this photo. Apparently the French election was happening in Second Life as well, with people voting, candidates campaigning, etc. See, Second Life is exactly like this life, except it's inside your computer, and not real - but you can do things like sell real estate and make (real) money at it.

Huh???!? This is something I'm still trying to get my head around - but as I told my fellow bloggers, I only learned what a blog was about a year ago. Nevertheless, I can't help wondering why anyone would want to have another version of this life - I thought the whole point of entertainment and hobbies was to escape from reality, not duplicate it!

I don't know - all I know is that people talk about Second Life as if it's the best thing since sliced bread. I kept asking why, and I was told (with shining eyes and rather demonic smiles):

"You can be anyone you want!" (well, I'm already trying to do that in this life..)

"You can express your most secret opinions!" (again, I pretty much don't hold back...)

"You can sell your paintings!" (hmm, now there's a thought..)

Monday, May 07, 2007

Me on TV

They wanted to get the "American" perspective, so Chris the presenter asked me what other Americans thought about the election. I paraphrased my politically savvy friend M, and mumbled something about wanting someone "competent" in the presidency (thanks for giving me that soundbyte, M!). Thankfully the interview was brief, because I really don't feel confident talking about politics, much less on television! I would make a lousy politician, that's for sure. Can you imagine me coming up with policies for the country? "Um...I don't know...what do you think? Do you want some gingerbread?"

Later I was asked if I wanted to be part of a panel on the set - my introvert side won over my extrovert side and I said No. Mainly I was afraid of looking stupid - or not looking like an expert - it's that old fear of being an imposter again. Or you could call it humility. Or just a belief in solid facts, in truth. Amazing the number of people in politics, and on TV, who seem to have no problem saying whatever they want, as many times as they want, even when they know it's not true (I'm thinking especially of the mud-slinging done by candidates during the campaign). And they wonder why people become cynical about politics...

(Photo again by James Kigin.)

At the Blogging Round Table

Here I am at our tableful o' bloggers. From my left, clockwise: Luca from Italy, Stephan and Olaf from the Netherlands, and Anders from Norway (but lives in Luxembourg). And that's Josh from Boston sitting across from me (to the right), and Chris from France24, with the microphone - we're about to be interviewed live!

(photo by James Kigin. Thanks James!)

Feeding Frenzy

Mmm, strawberries on top of some sort of pastry thing, very seductive in their bosomy-ness. These kind of events always make me think of Louis XVI for some reason. The elite feast while the people in the streets hope for change...

Amazing how rich, educated, privileged people can turn into crazed zombies when free food is offered! (And no, I didn't get a chance to taste the strawberries; by the time I put my camera down, they were all gone.)

Just (Tiny) Desserts

Here is my fellow blogger "Olaf from the Netherlands", reaching in for a little sugar-glazed fruit thing. Within 3 minutes the tray was picked clean by the suited vultures crushing in on all sides.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Post-Electoral Tristesse

This is the VIP room. Notice that no one is looking up at the television screens (even though they are gigantic and everywhere). There is a sense of anti-climax, which seems to follow the end of any race. Will anything really change? Was all the build-up worth it? And now, what are we supposed to be feeling? Amid all the talk and hype and cheers and shouts, it is very hard to reflect on what is really happening, what this really means. Hence the mass flocking to the food tables - like people at a funeral or a wedding. Collective anxiety in action...

"J'aime la France"

Here is Sarkozy making his acceptance speech. His first words were loving ones: "J'aime la France." And notice the slogan on the podium: "Ensemble tout devient possible" (Together, everything becomes possible). Hmm. Certainly not the image of the mean bully we've been led to believe.

So is this a good thing for France? For the world? Only time will tell. But to me, the fact that 85 percent of voters turned out is a positive sign that at least people care about what's happening in their country. Let's hope that Sarko can live up to his declaration of amour and make France happy to have him as their president.

p.s. The term I was looking for in the previous blog post was "concession speech." Fellow blogger Josh from Boston helped me out with that one. Thanks Josh! He's a high school senior who flew in to Paris only yesterday for this event, and leaves tomorrow. Wow. I don't remember doing anything even remotely as exciting as that when I was in high school. Way to go, Josh. His blog, by the way, is

The Results are In (and Published)

A huge cheer went up in the "VIP" room next to our blogger thinktank, when it was announced that Sarkozy has won, by 53 percent. People are being asked their first impressions - no one is surprised but of course some people are disappointed (like the 42 percent of voters in my arrondissement - the 10th -who voted for Royal).

The guy next to me just said that his head hurts and "it's hard to think", because he was out drinking with Norwegian journalists last night. I don't have that excuse, but I really don't have a lot to say right now. How do journalists do it? Come up with such quick reactions and comments? I need time to digest things. I don't think I make a very good "on the spot" blogger. As this post so pathetically shows.

(Which reminds me of what I said to my friend V the other day, explaining why I don't blog all the time - I'm the Toulouse-Lautrec of bloggers, I told her. You know, I do a little work and then go find the absinthe. Except what to do when there is an absence of absinthe? Well, there's wine in the VIP room - I'm heading over there now.)

p.s. That's Segolene Royal on the screen, about to give her speech. I can't remember what it's called in English - capitulation speech? My head isn't working either.
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From Your Girl in Paris

Here we are at the headquarters of France 24, in the official blogging room. You can see more about the election and also read some of my fellow bloggers in action at We're about to go live any second now. This is so exciting! I feel like Joel McCrea in Foreign Correspondent, or Rosalind Russell in His Girl Friday.

Bloggeur, Moi??

This has got to be one of the strangest evenings I've spent in recent memory. Get this, folks: I'm at France 24, a cable news channel outside of Paris, in a room full of bloggers from all over the world blogging about the French election. What?!??! How on earth did I get here? One of the other bloggers, in fact, just asked me that very question (but not in a mean way). I am asking myself that same question right this minute. Well, the answer is simple: connections. My friend V told me about the gig, because she knew someone on the inside. Et voila, here I am.

Talk about feeling like an imposter. First of all, I am almost the only woman in the room blogging (I've been told that there will be 2 or 3 others, but I have yet to see them. Apparently I am not the only one who took her time choosing an outfit to wear.) Second of all, it appears that most of the other bloggers are either journalists or pretty serious about French politics. Yikes! Please don't beat me up, fellows. I promise not to say anything too silly or distract you from your work (actually, I don't promise the latter at all - distraction is my middle name).

But enough about me - we're here to blog about the election! I better get to work. I'm desperately trying to get up to speed here. The Italian blogger to my left, Luca , just told me that a Belgian website has published some early exit poll results but I'm not allowed to tell you what they are because it is against the law in France to publish election results until all the polls are closed at 8 pm (luckily the blogger to my right, Anders, has a legal background and just explained this law to me, preventing me from getting a 75,000 euro fine. Thanks Anders!)

Back to me (because I can't talk about election results yet): as a side note, this is the first time my laptop has left the house in years. I was a bit embaressed by the dust on it, and the duct tape holding the screen together, but no one else seems to mind, or even notice. These are computer nerds, after all.

Oh my god! There is someone behind me filming this with a camera. Talk about performance anxiety. Now I know how men feel. My fingers are feeling awfully limp right now....I might need to go lie down. Do you think I could find some vodka around here?

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Meditations on a Sudden Downpour

I know I wasn't the only one to get caught in Friday afternoon's downpour - it came on the heels of yet another mostly sunny day in Paris, when everyone was out in the streets celebrating this seemingly endless good weather. The sun stayed shining throughout the rain, and the sidewalk became a shiny mirror, creating a parallel city universe - shimmery and blurry, like the unconscious or underworld; the city as it truly is, not how it appears to be on the surface. (Boy, do I need to stop reading Jung before I blog!)
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Blood Orange on Red Napkin

Sounds kind of like a haiku, doesn't it? This was part of an orange I ate at the beginning of the vernissage, and then forgot about and left on the hood of a car parked outside the bar's entrance. I don't know why I felt compelled to take a photo - I just liked the way it looked. Kind of like what I was trying to do in the paintings in this exhibit - a single fruit or vegetable floating in front of a rich color background. Though this one has the added touch of its skin off - hey, there's a new idea: Fruits in the Nude! (perhaps I could get Fruit of the Loom to sponsor me?)

I also like the way this shape conjures up many other things - butterfly, mussel, Pacman, etc...Amazing what a forgotten piece of fruit can do!

Bok Choy on the Town!

Here is the bok choy I painted, hanging until June 17th at Bar Fleur's - looking quite happy, methinks. Wouldn't it be lovely to be a painting? No need to pay rent, or run around going grocery-shopping, or try impossible poses in a yoga class - just hang out on a wall to be admired...

But of course a painting has no free will to speak of, nor does it have the power to complain about its surroundings. I mean, this bok choy might prefer being hung in a country house in Provence, or on the walls of a log cabin in the upper reaches of Alaska, or perhaps in the tiny sitting room of a maiden aunt in Cheshire, England - who knows its deepest desires? Not everyone thinks that Paris is the only place on earth to dwell (though it sure does beat a musty storage space near a freeway exit...).

Friday, May 04, 2007

Wampoline at Bar Fleur's

My latest vernissage has come and gone, and it seems that it was a success, at least in terms of turnout. It was your typical early evening springtime affair, made nicer by the beautiful weather we've been having: lots of smartly-dressed expats and French people mingling while the champagne and vodka flowed, and me running around trying to say hello to people and keep my ad-hoc girdle from riding up too much (I'd cut a pair of pantyhose off at the thigh, so that I could have the tummy support; enough said).

Of course, it's inevitable at these events that minimal attention is paid to the artwork - it's hard to look at paintings when you're surrounded by 40 people at a bar, almost all of them interesting and compelling in their own right (I am lucky to know so many amazingly different people!). And of course there was all the preparation going into it, which I won't bore you with now (you can always refer back to December's blog about the Holiday Open House), but suffice to say things were actually pretty organized on my end this time, thanks to accepting help from some people (thanks people!) and paying a little more attention to my own time management issues. Which still didn't save me from the usual excitement and adrenaline overload of rushing to finish things the "day of" - like buying shoes at 7 pm, when the event started at 7h30...(ah, but how thrilling to make it to the finish line - in 4-inch turquoise and cream peep-toe pumps, no less!)

Anyway, the show will be up until June 17th (longer than originally expected) so I'm sure I will be spending more time at Bar Fleur's in the next few weeks, meeting people for drinks and taking them on a personal tour of the artwork...(Oh yeah, the artwork! Duh! That was what this was all about, after all...)

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

One Family, One Window

And I guess parents of small children could be included in that former list.

Talk about a window onto the world - them looking out and me looking onto theirs (but of course only catching this tiny framed glimpse).

Watching the Parade from a Garret Window

Like I said, small children and Donald Rumsfeld (the latter wasn't available for testing, however).
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Does Everybody Really Love a Parade?

I've never understood parades. I mean, apart from small children and Donald Rumsfeld, who really enjoys them? If you think I'm being too harsh, let's analyze the elements of a typical parade together, and then you can make your own verdict.

Elements of a Typical Parade (in no particular order of noxiousness)
1. Noise (like we need more noise on Blvd Magenta, land of ceaseless traffic and whistles and sirens!)
2. Straggling (unless it's an army marching, and then it's not a parade, it's an invasion)
3. Sloppiness, uneven-ness. This goes along with straggling; not every "group" involved in the parade has their act together and it shows. Kind of like an amateur night walking tour.
4. If there are speeches, they are incoherant (has anyone ever been able to understand a speech made at a parade?) - and if there is music, bad sound system with overloaded speakers, making you want to run as fast as possible in the opposite direction.
5. Trash.
6. Traffic snarls.
7. Police everywhere.
8. Melted ice cream cones and kids having meltdowns.
9. All those political people again, shouting slogans like so many bleating sheep.
10. An overall feeling of disappointment. Maybe I am the only one who feels this way, but to me parades are a bit like birthday parties - all this build-up beforehand and then a feeling of, "is that all there is?" But then again, I am someone who tends to feel this way often (the "eternal dissatisfaction" of the artist, I suppose, if we want to put a pretentious label to it).

This was May Day, by the way. And in all other respects it was a beautiful day - sunny and warm and, well, perfect for a parade.