Monday, April 14, 2008

Paris Overdose

Every year when I was a child my family would go to our favorite theme park. We would ride the rollercoasters, buy souvenirs and toys, eat funnel cakes, and make a desperate stab at visiting everything in the park in one day. And every year, there would come a point, usually around 10:00 at night, in which I was exhausted, satiated, and stuffed. I think I’m reaching that point with Paris.

Remember, of course, that Claire and I live in a town whose cultural landmarks boil down to a bowling alley, a video store, and a hamburger place called ‘Buddy’s’. Okay, we do have the band Teenage Head and two roller derby teams; but, for the most part, Hamilton is a cultural dead zone. Remember also that I’m a bit of a Francophile… or perhaps a Europhile… or, let’s face it; I’m pretty much just interested in everything.

And Paris has so much to be interested in. There are currently three exhibits that I want to see: Patti Smith’s photos, Louise Bourgeois’s statues, and Marie Antoinette’s possessions. But there are also at least five smaller exhibits I plan to visit, and of course, I have to spend a number of days in the Louvre again. There are no good movies out now to see; but there is a theatre near me that shows old movies, and there is a great DVD store near the Bibliothèque Nationale. I’ve bought enough books and I’m busy reading my way through Rimbaud, Chateaubriand, and Proust, in addition to all of the stuff I’m reading for the dissertation. I’m reading in the BNF from 9 to 7 every day. And, then I’m watching a lot of television shows at night because my French is still largely literary. (I understand about 98% of written French and about 70% of spoken French, and still speak French atrociously.) So, I’m learning a lot at once; it’s a bit like stuffing a goose.
Of course, it’s important to take advantage of opportunities like this, and I’m not about to complain about being in Paris. If I could live here, I would. It really is the cultural center of the world. (And, besides, the subtext of every gripe I have is that I really miss my wife.) But, I definitely need a break. Maybe I should go bowling


narrator said...

"Bowling in Paris" - it seems like a story that needs to be written. The nature of magnificent cities changes when you have, or don't have, that ability to share them with the people we want to share them with. Paris is all that, but it can also be a "long way away." At least in Dublin they'd never let the National Library stay open that long, plus, there's the pub right inside the building.

Holly said...

Go to Vienna. You'll feel better about the culture, and about your French.