Of Aching Feet and Chasing That Groove, with a Side of Rodin
My feet are so not happy with me. In the week since I've arrived, they've been doing some serious miles. While far from stylish, my Garmin watch has been keeping track for me and I've been averaging between six and eight miles of walking per day. Yesterday I topped 12 miles because I started the day with a short run and a long walk over to the Seine and the Jardin des Tuileries before ambling around the Marais in the afternoon. By early evening, my knees, my heels, the soles of my feet were complaining pretty loudly--but I just kept thinking, I'll just see this one more thing, check out this one more place, and then back to chez moi.
Oh, Paris, you temptress! You seduce me at almost every turn and who can say no to you? Look for yourselves!
It was past seven by the time I arrived home (another five hours, poof!) and the last thing I wanted to do was go out again, but as amazing as the fruit in my mini-fridge is, that and the olives weren't going to cut it for dinner. I would have stayed in, but I've been feeling kind of weak--as if I'm not eating enough protein to fuel all my expeditions. So I pushed my swollen feet back into my shoes and did the right thing; I went across Republique to the Cafe Pierre where I'd imbibed in a refreshing and unusual non-alcoholic drink a few days ago. The omelette and salad and fries were more than I could eat, but fairly tasty and the fresh-squeezed, hand-shaken lemonade was phenomenal. Normally I'd order wine, but this tells you just how dead exhausted I was!
In addition to my being tired, I was disappointed that while my interactions there had been going well in French thus far, my original waiter ended his shift and when I tried to ask a question of his replacement, the guy said to me, "Speak English!" I think he meant well, that it would be easier for me, but I don't want it to be easier for me. The thing is, I haven't been understanding more than the simplest of transactions in French. I manage to ask my questions, order in restaurants, ask for directions, and I've actually been doing pretty well, but at times it can be really frustrating.
On the bright side, though I must certainly sound terrible to their ears, the majority of people understand me. Yay! Except then I'm really in for it, because I get that big smile (imagine that, an American trying to speak French!) and they launch into long and rapid explanations. I watch their faces intently, as if the shapes their mouths makes might help me. I grab for words here and there like a little girl trying to catch butterflies in a net. When they finally come to a stop, their eyes widen expectantly. My turn. Go! And sometimes I think I caught enough of what they said, but somehow I can't come up with much more than, Ah, oui! or D'accord, merci! Other times, there is something I want to say--something I know how to say--but a paralysis akin to stage fright hits me and the phrase, the words won't come and I sound like a complete idiot. Deeply mortifying. I'm at my worst when I'm tired, and it's one thing if I'm truly out of my depths--it's another when I sink just because I forgot to dog paddle.
I naturally hope this will improve as time goes on, and the only way that will happen is to embarrass myself again and again...uh, and again (encore et encore et encore).
The one benefit of this exhaustion was that last night I was able to sleep a bit, a bit these days meaning that I shut off the light at a quarter past midnight and fell asleep pretty quickly. Although I know I woke up at 3 am again because that's the preferred time for my neighbors directly across the way to party. I'm not complaining, it actually makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside to be in a city again; I love the energy. Still, I did get up by eight this morning and perhaps for the first time since I arrived, my street was silent.
Fantastic! Because I was determined to make today the day I get into my groove here. It's been a week and it's about time, damnit. I somewhat succeeded. I began, as I should, with a 20-minute meditation in my Headspace Creativity pack, then went about eating my French petit-dejeuner: making my mini-French press coffee (the press is too mini...I have to make it twice), eating a slice of that incredible melon from my serendipitous market find earlier in the week, and eating one of those incredible Bordier fresh yogurts. It was the myrtle, which I forgot to look up, but now I know--it's blueberry! And by the way, I've never liked yogurt, but these things I'm eating must be something else. Another aside: yaourt, the French word for yogurt--that's a real tough one to pronounce.
While I ate my breakfast, I made myself cozy with my laptop on the sofa and played some morning acoustic on Spotify and....yes, people, I wrote! Let's not get too excited. We're not talking National Book Award quality here, and it was only a handful of pages, but still--in comparison... So I feel a smidge better. I haven't moved even a centimeter up the cliff face, but perhaps I've got a good toe hold--my little toe.
Having put in a little over an hour and knowing that tomorrow will be 90 degrees again and I won't be as enthused about walking around, I decided today would be a great day to go check out my favorite museum in Paris, the Musee Rodin. You want to go on a nice day to the Rodin because there are the sculptures inside the Hotel Biron, but the gardens are stunning, too, and several of his most famous sculptures are out there, notably the Thinker, the Burghurs of Calais and the Gates of Hell.
When this thought popped into my head, my feet groaned, but unless I truly wanted this to take all day, this outing merited a metro ride--good news, mes pieds! Saving that time gave me more time and space to enjoy the museum and eat a small lunch there in the garden (a lunch that would have been more relaxing had I not been besieged by bees). I have visited the Musee Rodin every time I've been to Paris. The passion and expression in his sculptures just rocks my world, and the way he sculpted hands--the articulation of them, the strength and the humanity (I know how this may sound, but I can't think how else to say it). Each time I go, a different sculpture seems to speak to me. The first time, it was the Kiss, of course. The next time, it was La Cathedrale (hands!). Today, I was struck more than ever by La Danaide, maybe because since I was alone, I got the audio guide and learned the mythology behind the story--a woman forced to atone for killing her husband (I'm assuming he was not a nice guy) by filling a bottomless bucket with water. Finally, she collapses with the realization of the futility of it all and in the stone, her hair becomes the water and...wow--just beautiful!
I really luxuriated in the museum, maybe for the first time, partly because I was alone, but I think mostly because I didn't need to rush off to the next destination. I've got three months. Or three months, less one week, but I don't really want to think about time's limits just now, but rather time's expanse.
At the same time, I got back with time to write this daily blog before I take myself to a nice dinner because, hey, it's Saturday night. So....kind of getting in the groove. Tomorrow I plan on laying low: get up earlier, go out for a short run and then spend the majority of the day working on the novel, reading and writing postcards (remember: I have 78 euros worth of stamps!).
That doesn't make for a very exciting blog, I realize, but I have no doubt Paris has something unexpected up her sleeve for me.