Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The air has softened, finally, and last night walking home started to smell like fall, the brine of the water and a fire in someone's fireplace somewhere above me. I am, as usual, thinking about eyes.

Not too long ago I was reading about chitons, who live under the water with eyes made of rocks. They're covered in eyes, eyes all over their shells, rocks with retinas and lenses although not much of a brain. It's a curious evolutionary choice, since the chitons tend to live in the tidezone, where their limestone eyes are easily eroded by the salt water and the waves. It seems to me that they have almost the opposite problem of the ogre-faced spider, having to grow whole new eyes every now and again instead of a new protective layer each night, but either way just a means of keeping themselves safe. If your eyes aren't connected to a brain, I wonder if wearing them off in the water wears off everything they've seen. I wonder if you'd even notice.

I'm collecting ideas for how to see next, in case I ever manage to evolve myself out of these eyes.

Friday, September 21, 2012


I didn't spend much time alone in Paris, which is unusual but not unpleasant. Somehow, though, in the Musee D'Orsay I found that I had lost my friends somewhere in the rooms behind me. Near the top the glass is shaded, with one small spot clear to see through to all the sculptures below. For the moment, at least, the hallway was empty, and I got that old see-through feelings, like the ghost of the museum. It's one of my favorite parts of traveling, the moments when you could be anywhere and so are instead nowhere, just existing in this space outside of your own life, like the awake version of waking up from a dream with no idea of who or where you are.

I thought about staying there, moving in, a little mouse in all that big train station. But then my phone shook with news of the location of my companions, and I remembered that the Impressionists are not necessarily the paintings I would want to live with forever. So I turned and found the escalator. Going clear is always more fun when you can start being seen again.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


 It's difficult to untangle my actual feelings about Paris from my expectations of Paris, expectations built on years and years of studying French and reading books and books and books set in Paris. In any case it was impossible to believe that I was actually in Paris until our boat brought the Eiffel Tower into view, all impossibly delicate and so formidably sturdy at the same time. In retrospect this is perhaps true of all of Paris, but what was true at the time is that being in Paris felt so right I thought I could burst, like in dreams when you find a room in your house that you realize was there all along. I can understand how Franz Reichelt believed that he could fly in just his overcoat, jumping off of that tower. If it was going to work anywhere, it would work there.

I suppose it's pretty much impossible not to romanticize Paris, but Paris does its part by living up to the hype. I am lucky enough to have been to some places that are just beautiful no matter which direction you look (remember Venice?), but Paris is the sort of beauty you can settle into, that you could live in without feeling crowded. Ginsberg once said of Paris, "You can’t escape the past in Paris, and yet what’s so wonderful about it is that the past and present intermingle so intangibly that it doesn’t seem to burden." If I could, I would go back to Paris tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Paris at night

We took a boat ride around the Seine on my first night in Paris on a boat that conveniently sold bottles of wine at the dock and timed itself to arrive at the Eiffel Tower just as the light show started. We drove back around almost to our starting point, waving at the people lining the concrete shores of the river. The boat approached one final bridge and the guide got as far into his sentence as "This is the most romantic bridge in Paris" when a group of boys with long hair stood up on the bank and mooned the boat. Why the bridge is so romantic was lost when all of the passengers erupted in laughter and cheers as the boys slowly faded into the darkness and Notre Dame loomed above us. And so it's fair to say that getting mooned by teenagers was one of my favorite things about Paris.

Sunday, September 09, 2012


Paris has left me exhausted and bruised and completely in love. I imagine I'll be spending the foreseeable future plotting how to move there.