Thursday, February 28, 2008

Pleasant dreams.

I'm sitting at the Greensboro, N.C. airport, waiting to board my plane home. Right across from me sits a paunchy man, probably in his mid-50s. He's leaning back as far as he can, with his legs stretched out in front of him. His head rests at a right angle to his shoulders, as if there's a hinge in his neck. He is snoring, loudly. If we were in a smaller room, the windows would be rattling. If we were in a car, we'd both have gone deaf by now.

Last week, waiting at O'Hare for a flight back to Cincinnati, I saw the exact same thing, again directly across from me. I doubt today's Mr. Sleepy is the guy I saw in Chicago, but he easily could be, really.

I chuckled to myself at O'Hare sleeper, but I've realized that just as easily as he could my current neighbor here in North Carolina, I could be him, too, stretched out, snoring, dreaming. The only thing that keeps me from doing it is my own self-consciousness. I'm told that when a man reaches a certain point in his 50s, he no longer cares so much about appearances.

Not giving a shit -- I look forward to it.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

LDP's 115th Bob Dylan Dream.

I don't often remember the details of my dreams, but when I do, I make a point of telling everyone about them, even though I know that kind of thing can be excruciatingly dull. This one should be no exception.

In last night's dream, I was sent up on a stage to replace an AWOL Bob Dylan. The setting was a small club, the kind of place he hasn't played in 45 years. He was missing, and my friend Steve insisted that I not only replace Dylan, but pretend to be him, too. The lighting in the smoky club was dim and the air, damp.

After much cajoling, I agreed to do it, but only on the condition that Steve write all of the necessary chord changes on the neck of the guitar. I think I was vaguely amused by this even as I dreamt it, because in real life I barely even know what the phrase, "chord changes" means. He said he would, and I went backstage to prepare.

Moments later, I heard the announcement, "Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Bob Dylan!" I swaggered out onto the stage and things looked good until I spotted my guitar. Although my friend had kept his end of the bargain -- the chords were right there on the neck, as agreed -- he'd written them on one of those very cool National Steel Guitars. The sight filled me with dread and panic.

Honestly, I woke up in a sweat. What does it mean, doctor?

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Stuck Inside of Mobile.

Back home. Great to see our kids, but other than that, I'm experiencing some serious, post-vacation letdown. (Note for my dissertation: the feeling is much more intense when you return from Paris than it is when you return from, say, Indianapolis.) We got back on Thursday evening and soon found ourselves at Noble Roman's pizza when, just 24 hours earlier, we were eating wonderful bread and cheese at a sidewalk cafe. I went to work on Friday, which was a mistake -- it was a particularly difficult day.

I suppose, having just returned from a European vacation, I shouldn't complain, but it's in my nature. I spent so much time thinking about the trip during the weeks leading up to it, and had such a good time while we were there, that real life is going to seem a bit less lustrous than usual for a while.

My wife and I came home with hundreds of photos, so I have plenty of blog fodder. Of course, three of the seven people who read this blog were in Paris and still are, so they've seen it all before. But just as we tell our kids that their soccer games aren't about winning -- they're about having fun, see -- this blog isn't about readership. It's about . . . come to think of it, what is it about anyway?

Anyway, I'll start posting pictures soon. In the meantime, I'll just mention a few things. One day we went to Sacre Couer church in the Montmartre neighborhood and, the next day, I came across a blog post by an American woman living in Paris who had just roamed the same neighborhood. She really captured the experience well, and I like her blog, Badaude, a lot. I added it to my links on the right but be warned: don't read it unless you're okay with the idea of wanting to drop everything and move to Paris.

We also went to an excellent dinner hosted by the husband-and-wife bloggers of Our Family in Paris and Paris Musings, and their lovely children. My wife was the only adult non-blogger there, and she kept the "nerd" comments under her breath. I think I heard her say something about Dungeons and Dragons, but I let it slide. Otherwise, our meal was delicious and it was a very nice evening.

Finally, our hosts for the week were great. My old friend Misplaced and his wife are busy, he writing a novel and she slaving away in grad school, but they spent a lot of time with my wife and me, which was very cool. We stayed at their apartment for a week, which couldn't have been easy for them, what with my daily, three-hour-long beauty regime and my sleepwalking, but they were quite gracious, as was their cat. Great fun.

I think I'd like to go back.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Paris Postcard.

Today was another great day in Paris.  My wife and I spent the morning at the Musee d'Orsay, home to the largest collection of Impressionist art in the world.  Today, you see works by Monet, Degas and their contemporaries reproduced or imitated on everything from toilet paper packaging to motel wallpaper, but in their day, they were real rebels.  When you enter the museum, the first galleries you visit hold the work of the Impressionists' predecessors, paintings described as "Conservative," after the Conservatory where they were exhibited at annual salons. Even the uneducated like me can see what a huge change the Impressionists represented after that.  I think the word used most frequently by the voice in the audio tour guide was "shocked," as in, "The public was shocked by Sisley's blurring of lines."  Personally, I think they may be exaggerating the level of the general public's consternation but, still, I left wanting to know more.

After the Orsay, we took a long walk through Tuileries Gardens and up the bustling Champs Elysees to the Arc de Triomphe.  I'm glad we went, because the view as you walk up the broad boulevard is right out of a Paris poster, but the high-end designer stores didn't really interest me.  Wealthy Japanese visitors seemed to dig them, though.  

I prefer the Marais, where our friends live:  narrow, winding streets, lined with boutiques, bars and restaurants.  I'm sitting now in the living room of their apartment.  The window is open and I can hear the Vespas buzzing along the roads and children laughing on the playground below.  Reality is beginning to creep into my thoughts.  Tomorrow is our last day here, and then we're on the plane and back to earth.  I miss my kids and I look forward to seeing them, but for now I'll sit and plan how I can send for them, find a little place to live and make this city our home.

Yes, I realize the plan is not well-formed.  I'm telling you though, a guy could get used to this place.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

What time is it in Paris?

The Parisian day starts later than the American day.  In Cincinnati, I'm up early to milk the cows and fetch water from the well, but here in the French capital I have no such obligations. Our hosts, Misplaced and his wife, live in a great neighborhood, the Marais.  Last night -- a Sunday night, mind you -- the vicinity was buzzing, full of energy and beautiful people.  The mornings are serene.  I was just looking out the window; the street below is deserted.  It's also immaculate.

My wife and I are getting an early start today.  We want to hop on the Metro and make it to the Louvre by the time it opens, 9:00 a.m.  She and I both fell asleep early last night, and so I've been awake for a while.  Thinking the bells for 8:00 were about to chime (and judging from my previous mornings' observations, it wouldn't be odd at all for the streets to be so quiet at that hour) I was just about to wake her when I realized it was only 5:30.  I guess my body clock, such as it is, hasn't adjusted quite as well as I'd thought.  Fortunately, I had my realization about the time before I rousted Red.  Let's just say she's not a morning person and leave it at that.

I'd go get baguettes and pastries, but I don't think the bakeries are open yet.  The problem is, I've drunk half a pot of coffee and I'm doing that leg-jiggle thing that so endears me to colleagues at work during lengthy meetings.  I'll wait for a little more light outside, then I'll go for a stroll. The streets are narrow and cobble-stoned, and there's something interesting around every corner:  restaurants, shops, and did I mention beautiful people?  I know there won't be anyone out walking now, but it could be fun to watch the bakery owners open up their stores.

In the meantime, let me recount a little bit about my day yesterday. Misplaced and I spent a good portion of it roaming around.  We stopped at a restaurant and I'm virtually certain the following actually happened:

(Misplaced and LDP take a seat at sidewalk cafe.  As the waiter delivers two coffees, Misplaced rattles off something in French.  The waiter leaves, then returns and places a sandwich in front of LDP.)

LDP: That looks like gristle.

Misplaced: It
is gristle.

LDP: Oh, well . . . I . . . huh?

Misplaced: I said, it
is gristle. It's very popular around this neighborhood. All the locals love it.

LDP: Gristle sandwiches are popular?

Misplaced: Yes. (Glancing at the waiter.) Don't hesitate like that -- everyone'll know you're a tourist. Do you want people to think of you like that?

LDP: Well . . .

Misplaced: You don't. I know you don't. Try it, you'll fit right in. I eat one almost every day.

LDP: You didn't have one today.

Misplaced: Yes, I did.

LDP: When?

Misplaced: Before.

LDP: I didn't see you.

Misplaced: Nevertheless, I did.

LDP: But we've been together all day. When did you eat one?

Misplaced: You're still jetlagged.

LDP: Well, that's true. (Taking a big bite.) Mmmm . . . . that's good gristle.

The waiter smiled broadly at me and I could tell I'd made him proud. Misplaced grinned too, knowing he'd taught me something about getting to know other cultures. I left feeling I'd done my part to mend Franco-American fences.

Live from Pont Marie

This has been a fantastic trip so far. Here we have a little trio, with a cameo by my wife, on a bridge from Ile St. Louis to the Right Bank.

How could anyone not love Paris?

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Au revoir for now.

Last night was dominated by children vomiting, and so I've just now finished packing for an overseas flight that leaves in four hours. My wife and I are nervous about leaving the kids behind, but we know, in the end, they'll be fine living at the airport for a week. Everybody loves an adorable airport urchin.

I'd planned to take my laptop and blog about how much the Parisian women dig me -- I mean live blogging, as they were actually digging me. It would have been so hot. The problem is, I never got around to copying our photos, music, work, etc. onto an external hard drive, and suddenly I'm seized with fear that I'll leave the laptop in a park somewhere. So it's staying home, but maybe I can mooch someone else's.

Time to go. There's a beret with my name on it, on the table of a corner coffee bar, or something.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Campaign Dictionary.


1. characterized by excessive piousness or moralistic fervor, esp. in an affected manner; excessively smooth, suave, or smug.

2. of the nature of or characteristic of an unguent or ointment; oily; greasy.

3. having an oily or soapy feel, as certain minerals.

T minus 2

At about 7:45 tonight, all the power went off in our neighborhood. My wife and I ate dinner with the moonlight shining through our dining room windows. She then put our 6-year-old son to bed, and I helped our 9-year-old daughter do her homework by candlelight, which sounds very rustic and pioneer-esque, but ended up annoying us both. She's an excellent student and likes to get everything just right; needless to say, squinting over the books in the dim light of the candles and my Blackberry is not her preferred studying mode. She considers this half-assing it.

Now everyone's in bed. The house was pitch black for a while, and going to sleep just felt right, even though it was only about 9:30. I thought I'd come back downstairs and write a post in the darkness, just like Paul Revere. But the power came back on, and with it, every light in the house. From the street, it looked as if the place were on fire.

I should be packing my bags, but my momentum is gone. Funny, I can hardly think about anything now other than this trip to Paris -- which is just days away -- but I can't manage to open that suitcase. It'll work itself out, I'm sure. Talk about half-assing it, huh?

One thing I have done, however, is secure my in-flight wardrobe. Voila:

Stylin'. Bonjour City of Lights!

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Super Bowl XLII Prediction!

Boredom -- 56

Me -- 0

You read it here first.

Friday, February 1, 2008

It's true, I tell ya.

Whenever I tell people I'm going to Paris to visit friends, the first question they always ask is, "Wait, aren't we at war with France?" After that they start asking about who, exactly, I'm visiting, as if I couldn't possibly know anyone overseas. Once they find out who it is, though -- that's when the questions get irritating.

"Do you really know Misplaced?" they say. "Can you get me tickets to his blog? Is that his real hair?"

You can imagine how frustrating this is -- a frustration not born out of jealousy over the thousands of hits his blog gets while mine languishes in obscurity, I assure you. Whatever its cause, I will begin feeling angry and bitter about it just as soon as I finish bunking at his apartment, eating his food and drinking his coffee.

For those who doubt my honesty, I offer the following photographic evidence that he and I do, in fact, know each other.

Misplaced (right) and me during our stint with the Chippendales (Juniors Division)

I suppose we were 14 or 15 when that pic was taken. Mercifully, I forget the details of that particular junior high dance. I don't even remember who my date was, but I'll say this to her, whoever she is, where ever she is: Sorry! I'm sure the cheesy piping on my lapels and my circus clown bowtie made you think staying home that night might have not have been such a bad idea after all. Plus, Anonymous Girl of Decades Ago, I'm virtually certain I was too nervous to speak to you that night. Let me treat you to an espresso to make it up to you.

On the positive side, though, I think this picture helped me solve my "what to wear in Paris" question. Can't go wrong with black tie.