I’m in Paris taking a class focused on the media systems of France, China and the U.S. So much for the rough life of a student, I know. If it makes some of you a lesser shade of jade, know that I’m sleeping on something the thickness of toilet paper–1 ply. Also, I found a chubby spider in said bed. I have named him Sarcozy. Pierre is another spider permanently affixed to the ceiling. He hasn’t moved in two weeks. Friends claim he is dead. I shant hear of it. Pierre eats the mosquitos, and does not crawl into my bed. I like Pierre. Sarcozy, not so much.
Aside from naming spiders, I’ve been having more standard Parisian adventures, including a boat ride down the Seine, and a train trip to Chartres Cathedral. We got the down low on the gothic splendor from a crusty Brit named Malcolm Miller. He “read” some of the magnificent stained glass windows for us, and I discovered that the suckers actually come with biblical commentary. Here’s a bit of my own, non-authentic commentary: Five of the lancet windows beneath one of the rose windows depict Jewish prophets literally hoisting the New Testament dudes on their shoulders. It struck me as a rather strange pep rally. Also, there was a section of the cathedral up some stairs that had a contemporary art exhibit. Picture Georgia O’Keffee knock-offs juxtaposed with the finest in Medieval glass. The traditionalist in me wanted to scream. Next thing you know someone will put a Prince song in a Shakespearean play. Oh wait, I already suffered through that abomination in film.
Strange pairings aside, Paris is the most beautiful city I’ve ever seen in terms of human-made splendor. I must give it this caveat because nothing will ever match the natural beauty of Portland, Oregon or parts of Hawaii for this little American. Say that last word like you’ve just smelled something foul–that’s the way the Parisians look when they say it. For all my efforts, I continue to absolutely butcher their esquisite language. Although my lack of skills saved me some Euro the other day (G. is wondering to which day I am referencing. Shut it.). Most of us bought these Navigo cards for the Metro. They are an okay deal until you find out you also have to pay 5 Euro for a bunch of photos when you only need to affix one to the damn card. This ticked me off on principle so I decided to test my luck.
So I’m by myself coming up the Metro stairs at our home station of Gambetta when I see these guards checking everyone’s tickets. I quickly decided I would play the stupid tourist–not much of a stretch. When I handed the bald-headed man in uniform my card, he said “le foto” or something like that. I looked up at him and said in my lame, massacre of his language, “Ou est le foto?” He smirked and said, “bon” and motioned me off. Saved! The fine is five times the photo fee, but I’m now even more determined, even a little giddy, like a criminal high on a spree. Cheap French thrills.