"Press 9 only in the case of an emergency such as death, rape, or abduction."
This was the after hours voice message of the American Embassy in Paris.
It was good to know they considered such things emergencies.
The fact that I had no money, though, did not fit into that category so I hung up.
Ah, La France.
I'd forgotten all of its charm!
And I feel fortunate just being back here.
If souls were to have a nationality, I'm pretty sure i have a French one.
So, I spent 5 hours walking in the cold rain yesterday looking for a bank, or somewhere, to exchange my travelers checks. Yes, it's been that long since I traveled. Come to find out, La France made a national decision about two years ago to no longer accept travelers checks. And today is Sunday and tomorrow is a national holiday, and everything is closed. And still there is nothing in France that is open 24 hours.
Isn't that beautiful?
And frustrating for an American.
Places close for lunch
(people have lives outside of work!)
I need neosporin for the infection in my foot.
The pharmacies are closed.
I'm walking down the street today to take a rose to the lovely lady at the office of tourism who spent about two hours yesterday trying to help me with the travelers check issue, and a car speeds up and the driver motions me over to ask me if I know of a magazin that might be open.... His wife looked a bit ill....obviously they weren't from here, though I couldn't tell from their French. I told them, "Je suis americaine et je cherche la meme chose--desolee!". They sped off.
The office of tourism was closed for lunch.
I wandered into the cathedral where they were having mass.
It was beautiful with a chorus of human angels singing. This is the largest cathedrale in Europe, I was told by Nourdine, who picked me up in Paris to bring me to Amiens to play some songs for the 33rd Amiens International Film Festival.
I fell asleep in the wings of the stage just before I was to go on, exhausted from the trip and from all of the scrambling to tie up loose ends before traveling.
I thought I was just doing a couple of songs before the showing of Les Raisins de la Colere. But it turns out I was opening the opening ceremony of the festival. So I quickly changed what songs I was going to do. And then Fabien, the director of the festival would come out after me.
There were a lot of people there in the grand theatre and just before going on, Fabien introduces me to the Mayor of Amiens in the dark backstage. I couldn't see him but was told that we would all have cocktails afterwards at the Hotel de Ville.
I was wishing we could have had some cocktails right then.
I love France.
From the moment you get on the Air France plane, everything turns into Mad Men.
The women are all beautifully dressed and chic. The men are well mannered and charming. And there is a politesse and a certain, "ca se fait pas" about things that just should not be done and are unacceptable. I guess after nearly 2000 years of civilization, there is that. C'est la Gaule.
There is no Red Neck Taliban here.
The lovely Francaise sitting next to me in the flight to Paris sensed my distress with taking off and she reached out and grabbed my hand and held it until we were firmly in the air, giving me a pep talk and a Lamaze class in breathing the entire time.
I had had a glass of wine in the Atlanta airport before leaving. I should have had two. I took a Xanax. But it didn't knock me out. By morning and pretty much no sleep, i realized i should have taken two Xanax.
I asked the guy sitting to my right, "Vous etes francais?"
He nodded. We were all crammed into Economy like sardines.
I asked if he'd ever seen that Seinfeld episode where Jerry's in First Class having a delightful time with a model and some dish that included Saphron, while Elaine is stuck cramped up in the back having a hell of a time.
He says no. He hasn't seen it. And he calls the flight attendant over.
Next thing I know he's moving to a seat in the back of the plane.
And I've got two seats to my self!
(I highly recommend, in your very worst French, to try to engage whomever is seated next to you-- your chances might be good to gain an extra place for your 7 hour flight!)
I looked over at the guy across the aisle.
He wore a mask over his eyes.
He had a beige blanket draped over his torso.
He looked like the Lone Ranger.
He'd been seated like that since before take off.
I looked at the map on the seat in front of me.
It showed the little airplane slowly making its way over the east coast.
The Atlantic looked very deep and blue.
Oh gawd oh gawd I'd hate to fall into that.
I looked at the Lone Ranger.
He never moved.
He was in his own world.
I tried to watch a movie.
It was Hangover 3.
I guess I fell asleep for most of it.
Woke up at the end and one of the characters had breasts.
By now the plane is dark and quiet for the most part.
I look over at The Lone Ranger.
He hasn't moved at all, still seated up straight.
I tried to arrange myself draped across my two chaises.
Morning finally comes.
The little airplane on the screen in front of me is now flying over Bretagne.
And soon after, I just have some coffee as they serve breakfast, we approach our landing.
A flight attendant wakes up the Lone Ranger.
He takes off his mask and his cape.
And i envy him.
He has slept a solid 7 hours, not moving one bit as far as I can see.
He is stoic and seems refreshed.
I straggle through the airport, exhausted, finding my bags and very relieved that there is someone waiting for me with my name clearly typed on a sign.....