Itinerant Mind Full

Sadness of all sadness: Evernote, my virtual shoebox of curiosities, has closed me out (of its free version, that is). And obviously on my dreadfully small – but perfectly adequate – budget, the upgraded version is out of the question — especially if I intend to keep spoiling myself with café outings, anti-splurging on adorable but horrible quality shoes during the end of the winter soldes, and indulging my personal favorite caprice: bakeries.

So it looks like I’ll have to find another way to record my cerebral wanderings.

This week, I’ve been pondering how curiosity begets inspiration in everything from toast to Jay-Z. The gift of questions in romantic, friendly, and all relationships, not to mention why reading makes women brazen and writing a love letter is better than a sext.  France is funny with its scaredy-cat Parisians and time-capsule castles hiding taxidermied trouvailles. History always runs more than skin deep, even in barbershopsI love photos, hate selfies (but maybe not that much), and really need to break out my camera again. I have friends on the move and it’ giving me traveler’s gimmes for color in Moroccounderwater hotel rooms in Zanzibarancient ghost cities in Turkeyelves in Icelandbook loving in Riga, and wandering in Amman.

Offline and in the real world: James Joyce. Ohla. Wooed me and repelled me within the bounds of a front and back cover. I’d borrowed a four-book collection from the private library of a friend for the express purpose of reading “Dubliners” (since adding short stories and poetry to my reading lists has been a recent goal) and they were phenomenal. The series as a whole was like watching randomly selected film scenes spliced together. You never quite learn the back story of the characters and never quite learn what happens to them; you just watch them as the verbal camera pans across their life until it catches a glimpse of someone new to follow. Perceptive, amusing, touching – and cleverly voyeuristic.

After such a great start, it seemed only natural to prolong the pleasure with “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.” It started off well and Steven’s stream of consciousness as a young boy was captivating, but jump to his Christmas home from boarding school and all first impressions are out. We’ll call this literature’s way of reminding you not to be greedy. I’m sure there was a disconnect keeping me from appreciating what is supposed to be such an important piece of literature, but oh the agony. Rarissime is it that I can’t wait for a book to end (can’t wait to find out what happens, yes), but this was one of them. 

After a few weeks of a paragraph at a time, I forced myself through the last 50 pages on the train to the Eastern French region of Franche-Comté to visit a recently married fellow Crusader, after which I gleefully moved on to my backlog of articles waiting for me in my Pocket and what I hope will be a more accessible read with Proust’s Un amour de Swann. Am I kidding? Maybe, but I’m treating myself to madeleines at the end of it, regardless.

 

Assuming I have access to funds again, that is. My credit card decided to call it quits this weekend – probably because it knew I was trying to buy tickets to what turned out to be the squirmiest.lewdest.worst.movie.ever.

Good news: the weekend visit to Besançon and Dijon was only dampened by rain, not the finicky card. SPent a glorious 24 hours thanks to my lovely newlywed hosts, who organized a flash dip into local culture with pumpkin-comté soup, a visit to a local wine shop followed by a fondu dinner, a peek (literally) into the citadel and a traditional (albeit long!) Chandeleur mass at the cathedral.

Bad news: the bank gave me the typically inefficient runaround before telling me to just order a new one. I’m dealing with similarly abysmal dead ends because apparently thanks to my previous stay three years ago, France most likely thinks I exist twice and can’t figure out my social security number. Let’s all just move to code savvy Estonia.

I’m stitching silver linings on the rain cloud of au-pairing by taking advantage of the family’s piano and the girls’ lesson books to relearn what little I once knew about playing. The repetition is surprisingly more rewarding at this age than it was at age 10.

On a side note (musical pun intended): It’s so amusing to listen to the girls sing “Do a deer” in the French version with its adapted word play: mi, c’est la moitié d’un tu…

Less amusing? Listening to Frozen over and over and over and over, with an eight year old trying to hit the high notes.

Speaking of frozen, it’s February, the long dreary time of year when your skin – my skin – screams no to everything (like a certain four-year-old française that I spend way too much time with…). In an effort to bring some moisture into my life, I’ve finally hunted down coconut oil in its French cachette at Bio C Bon (beware what I can only assume to be a waxy knock-off with no scent or taste at the corner stores) and spent an hour tasting raw honey (extrait à froid or non chauffé in French if anyone’s curious, according to the apiculteur) only to bring it home for a face mask.

2014-02-05 00.54.03

On the other hand, those same Asian and Middle Eastern corner stores all over Paris are a treasure trove. Sesame seed treats, bulk peanuts, affordable spices, and most importantly: beurre de cacahuettes hiding under the name of pate d’arachides. It’s not the best, but until I buy a machine to make my own natural version again, as far as I’m concerned it’s as good as Skippy. But better because it costs half the price for twice as much, which is a huge selling point for someone who eats so much of it.

C’est à dire, I’ll probably go through another two jars as I read articles for next week…

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