Nothing much happens in this play, either. It’s someone’s birthday, or it isn’t; two strangers arrive; the birthday boy leaves the next morning as a zombie. I wonder if I am suffering James Joycean déja-vu, or if I really recognize a boarding house, a mother, an eligible daughter figure, a stage Irishman and a Jew. Maybe it’s like a sensory deprivation touch: you start to project.
The theatre is from a great age of French something. The play is from a different great age of French something. Existentialism superimposed upon the flocked-red-velvet era. Paris despite the wars.
I love the sensuously curved metal rating on the stairs on our way out. I have given up wondering why we do not take the elevator. I ask the Canadian, how is her knee. She says, “That’s why you have two.”
Outside, the Eiffel tower has switched to an epileptic nightmare. Scintillating pinpoints of halogenic white lights among the stable gold. It bristles with self importance.
If only it would fade back into the iron sky. If only I would fade back into Paris.

I immediately head for the bathroom. At the door to the balcony, my colleagues hesitate to accept the usher’s offer to reseat us. “Is it better?” they ask. Well, yes. So are the seats she offers is one minute before the curtain rises.

The play is “The Birthday,” by Harold Pinter. It is Samuel Beckett light. There is too much human interest and entertainment for a Beckett play. No matter how badly it’s played, I’ve never heard anyone laugh at “Waiting for Godot.”

Nothing much happens in this play, either. It’s someone’s birthday, or it isn’t; two strangers arrive; the birthday boy leaves the next morning as a zombie. I wonder if I am suffering James Joycean déja-vu, or if I really recognize a boarding house, a mother, an eligible daughter figure, a stage Irishman and a Jew. Maybe it’s like sensory deprivation: you start to project.

We emerge on the Avenue Montaigne. The Théâtre des Champs Elysées is way at the foot of the street. We are back at the Seine. Across the river, the Eiffel Tower is lit up like Times Square, If every light bulb in Times Square were rearranged into a giant perfume bottle with a spray top.

“This is the Pont d’Alma.”

And I’m Marie Antoinette.

“It’s the Pont Alexandre III,” I said, losing all hope. We walk right past the Champs Elysées, our alleged destination.

“My friend Sarah’s apartment is around this corner,” I mention to my husband. He thinks this can’t be true.

A few blocks later, I point out the apartment of someone I worked for.

“It’s the place François I,” chides my husband.

“Well, it has to be somewhere,“ I say.

Perhaps I am deluded, I think. Perhaps they really know Paris much better than I do.

Le Bassin de la Seine

But the Canadian woman was already walking down the incline, determined to continue along the very bank of the Seine.
This is madness, I thought. It’s also dangerous, in every sense.
But they loved it, the Germans and the Canadian. I keep my eyes on my feet, avoiding at least the danger of potholes.
“It’s not dangerous,” claimed one of the Germans. “I jog here everyday. The Tuilleries, that’s dangerous.”
The best moment was the postal boxes for people who live on boats. Address: Bassin de la Seine.

We walked from the Louvre back to the Beaux-Arts. Then we walked along the Seine again. We walked to a bridge. I don’t know. It has tripping stones steps set without warning into a rational pattern all across the bridge.

My colleague stumbled and fell flat, fell face down into the downward incline. She saved her face but maybe not her head, as I could not understand why she refused to admit why she was hurt. She turned to the railing, toward the Eiffel tower, turned her face away so that we could not see her face.

“We’ll take a taxi,” volunteered my husband. “We could take a taxi.”That had been the original plan and I am not sure how we wound up on this stupid freezing walk in the dark.

“The only choice left,” I said, “is whether we take the taxi to the hospital or to the theatre.”

But the Canadian woman was already walking down the incline, determined to continue along the very bank of the Seine.

The color of Paris

My notebook matches my scarf, so this must be Paris.

I look out the window. It’s the exact grey I expected.

I saw a woman with what I thought was nappy black hair, but it was the intricate pattern of a knitted cap.

green
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Skeletons in the closet

shoeboxes2

Anna Rebecca Harrison hosted a Splash! meeting of Munich business women at her apartment last week. Anna has just launched a new business, Lady Butler, to help women get organized. To demonstrate just how organized a person can get, Anna graciously opened her closets to us.

It was terrifying. Anna freely confessed to being on medication.

Nevertheless, I felt hope. I bought ten plastic shoeboxes with pull-out drawers, just as you see here. It took me days to fit the little tabs in the little slots. I love my shoeboxes. My closets are unlikely to look like Anna’s any time soon, but I am no longer tripping over my shoes.

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Opel–socialism on wheels

Today’s Sunday edition of the Sueddeutsche Zeitung is full of articles about Opel: the car manufacturer that has become the focus of to-bail-or-not-to-bail debates in Germany.

I’ve never seen an Opel in Munich. Okay, we are the home of BMW–Bavarian Motor Works–and we’re also home of some of the richest zip codes in the Federal Republic.

My grandfather drove an Opel in Brooklyn, New York. I don’t even know where he got it. He parked it defiantly in front of the house. It was a political statement, understood by very few people.

Opel is the struggling, straggling tail end of a dream: “Wohlstand fuer alle”–“Economic well-being for everyone.” It’s early twentieth-century socialism on wheels.

It’s the Volkswagen without the Hitler.

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