(*takes a deep breath*)
My dear friends, potential readers and last but not least, my dear Fernando,
I hope you are comfortably seated and strongly advise you to find a little fluffy carpet on which your wrist could lay while your finger will interminably be rolling the wheel of your mouse downwards. Before even plumping the cushion on your chair (yes you will probably need a cushion to avoid stiffness in the back), may i suggest you to turn the kettle on and while the water boils, grab some chocolate of your favourite shade of brown, put a bag of tea (black for the brave ones) into a large and thick mug and put some un-disturbing music on (like the tunes you can hear in elevators or waiting rooms). Finally, make sure you've put your glasses / lenses on or screwed your eyeballs into their sockets.
You're going to need those eyes, survival supplies and limbs of yours if you want to be able to make it through the upcoming post which, you'd have guessed by now, will be extremely long.
My apologies in advance for that, but i've got a great deal of catching-up to do.
I may not have written much for the past few weeks but my Blackberry was with me all the time and its camera almost never went off. The story I’m going to tell you is absolutely uninteresting for its biggest part, but I’ve made sure to incrust a few hyperlinks to the evoked topics. If you don’t feel like reading the lot, just click on the links and just look at the pictures, I won’t complain!
But enough with the introduction, and let's go.
Everything started on Tuesday, October 19th.
I had decided to go to the cinema to see Gilles Paquet-Brenner's film Elle S'Appelait Sarah, based on the novel written by Tatiana de Rosnay, about The Vel d'Hiv Roundup in 1942.
It was due at twelve in a theater nearby so i watched The Secret of Kells to prevent myself from falling asleep. My head was still full of Celtic knots and cute kittens when i headed towards the cinema. I emerged from the dark room two hours later swallowing my tears as well as i could and had made up my mind that i had to buy a couple of books about this horrible episode of the Parisian History, which i did straight away before eventually heading back to my flat for some sleep.
The following night, due to the fresh memories of the day and to a letter i desperately wanted to answer, i could not focus on the text i had to write about the legend of Ariadne, Theseus and the Minotaur. I hurriedly scribbled a few lines in a notebook and spent the rest of the night wandering on Facebook. It was past five a.m. when i started to prepare the breakfast and as i was doing so i felt something sliding alonk my neck and arm. I grabbed it with a start before it could reach the floor and stood there in shock: for the first time in seven years, my necklace had fallen. I had removed it twice only since the first time i had tied it around my neck with its moonstone orb hanging from it. Once, three years ago, to add a tiny silver pentagram and a second time last year, for a silver birthday pendant given by Elodie (...). I could not pull my senses back together (you can easily imagine how intense had been the past few days for me to react that way because of a simple necklace): it clearly was a very, very bad omen. I clumsily finished to prepare the breakfast and went back to my desk, staring vacantly in front of me, frightened that my phone would ring to announce me that something bad had happened to someone i love (always filled with cheerful thinking, that's me! :D )
But no sign of any tragedy...
...until Wednesday, 2oth, the day i learnt that i might soon find myself unemployed.
Tragedy...tragedy...well. Not exactly, first because it was still unsure whether the hotel was indeed going to be sold and its employees fired, and second because i cannot pull myself to thinking that leaving this job would actually be such a painful experience! But here the thought was and it left me unquiet for the whole day, picturing myself homeless and chased by the police and trying to focus on far too many things while i was still completely obsessed by this letter i had to answer to. Ciao Arianna and Theseus, goodbye rewriting of my résumé, farewell Ô Tanizaki recueil! And hello unquiet thoughts! It could not last any longer, this lack of productivity was about to kill me! Paper in one hand, pen in the other, i started answering feverishly the obsessive letter just mentioned, to end up completely drained and exhausted but absolutely euphoric as well. Glad to be freed from this and already eager to receive an answer to this still unsent envelope i thought i'd better take my mind off it. Funny how easy it was, now, to focus on any and everything else!
The notebook was back in my hand, i tore most of its pages and re-read the root document i had been given. The emptiness in my mind was ready to give a cosy welcome to brand new word-equations and sentences. I wrote and wrote and wrote until there was no word left in my fingers.
The following day, my very good friend Annie came from Brussels where she had purchased a few naughty sweets and biscuits for me and we spent most of the week-end doing stupid but essential things together, joined Sunday by Axelle, whom i no longer need to introduce.
When Annie left on Monday though, my head had swam back to WWII and i thought better to try and avoid further thinking on the topic, frightened that I might feel depressed again. Tanizaki’s brilliant short stories succeeded in making a diversion until Wednesday 27th. Exhausted but eager to see the exhibition about the French writer Irene Némirovsky I was very curious about, I crossed Paris from the hotel to a narrow street in the 4th arrondissement in which is hidden the majestic and austere Mémorial de la Shoah I had already visited once last year.
My credit card melted down at the Memorial’s bookshop (and I barely exaggerate: literally, it came out burning hot from the machine!). I had lunch with my friend Karine I had not seen for a long while and the latter vividly recommended that I went to the exhibition France 15oo that was taking place at Le Grand Palais. I agreed with myself that I would go with Marc my colleague and friend (no: friend and THEN colleague) and Marco, my Belgian alter ego who would arrive the following Friday. I did not feel brave enough to face the queue on my own!
On Thursday night, thanks to the good care of a splendid Moon, I started typing the adventures of Ariadne and Theseus and finished the following morning, half drowned in the fourth helping of Starbucks Coffee. I went back home and tidied up my flat to welcome the long-awaited Marco. My head was still extremely busy with the Vel d’Hiv’ Roundup and the atrocities committed by the French police and government but I’ll dwell on that in another post (another side of Paris that has to be shown, not a bright one, but it is part of it and tells a lot about what Paris is), in which you'll learn what 'Pitchipoï' is, too. Marco’s train was late (it is a diplomatic way to say that he had missed his train because he mistook the arrival and departure times!), so I had a couple of glasses of wine on my own (oh please, everybody does that! … hum, you don’t?...) and tried to expel the ants burbling in my brains to focus on being cheerful and welcoming.
The week-end flied away very quickly, with Marc, Marco, Samuel and Emmanuel, the five of us happily talking in the vapours of rum exhaled by the delicious hot chocolates and Baba-au-rhum purchased from Fauchon. We had planned to see an exhibition but arrived too late and as we were due at a bar later, Babas were from far the best option to kill time!
Paris is fantastic! From one place to another you see it’s face change radically. We left the posh Madeleine for Pigalle where a small bar lost in a deserted street welcomed us. The bar owner wanted to sell it and we were there as potential buyers. Well. The very professional Samuel and Marc were there for that, but as for me I was far too focused on enjoying the most perfect Bloody Mary I had ever had the chance to drink to care about anything else! (Ugly glass, but great taste!)
As I went to the toilets to wash my sticky hands, I saw a panel emblazoned with the odd figure of a curious Minotaur, half bull, half Alice reminding me that I had not quite finished my story with Theseus. I say it casually, but at the time, Vodka playing its role, I was convinced that it was a sign from the great Goddess and felt guilty about having abandoned the last part of my writings.
In the end, the bar was too small for us, but paradoxically, the drinks were probably a bit too large and we headed towards Le Troisième Lieu pacing slightly oddly (even hopping, from time to time, no comment).
Sunday came and went, Marco, Marc, Erwann and I gathered around a nice dinner, joined by our Alison (ha! it was maybe not nice at all, but as I was the cook, I’m not going to compromise myself by saying so!). We celebrated a mix of Alison’s unbirthday, Halloween, and Samhain for me. When it was time to go to bed, Marco made me watch the pilot of a terrific TV series called FlashForward and I stayed up watching it until 1o the next morning without even noticing it (oooh, one more, just another one, the last one now, ooh! I can’t stop THERE!...).
Monday was the day dedicated to France 15oo, Marco and I burst into the hotel as knights in suit or armour to free Marc from his duties and as were waiting for him to finish we rummaged amongst a few flyers, hoping to find a few more nice things to do, but we were interrupted by a flamboyant blue old 2CV converted to the noble cause of tourism, and forgot about the rest. France 15oo is a very nice exhibition indeed, just as Karine had said. I fell in love once again with the semi-divine virtuosity shown in the old books and their illuminations.
Wednesday, before plunging into five more Babas-au-rhum, the boys and i discovered the mysteries of the old Inca civilization, or at least its treasures, as the lack of explanations in the exhibition left us quite frustrated. How would YOU feel when presented to fifty strings all attached to another and displayed as sun beams, you were told that it was supposed to be a ‘mnemotechnic tool’. Stop. No clue about how the hell it could possibly work, if the knots were supposed to mean something specific, who was meant to use it! I definitely intend to discover more about this curious thing, but would have enjoyed to know it straight away in a short explanation neighbouring the thing itself! Anyway, the jewellery was worth spending two hours there. The mummy shown in the last room was quite impressive as well and took me back to my youth with Tintin and Rascar Capac. Nice also was this aspect of the Aztec cosmogony saying that the whole of humanity was born from three eggs: a golden one (gold was thought to be the sweat of the Sun-god!), from which were born the male representatives of the nobility, a silver one containing their wives (silver was linked to the Moon) and a last one made of copper, containing the rest of humanity. The Incas were clever: Moon is a Lady, Brits, Saxons, enough please with this ‘Mister-Moon’ nonsense!
... And here we are. Friday morning, Marco left yesterday and I hurried to download all the pictures, already planning to write the longest post ever about these incredible last two weeks…
I forgot to mention a second mystic sign: a book for children about the legend of Theseus in the Pinacothèque’s bookstore! I understand what it means... It means that I have to go back to my routine and try to improve it a bit. More writing, more drawing, more reading, more cinema, more exhibitions, concerts, learning and more real life (less facebook would be great as well).
Before leaving the hotel today, I was told the ‘fresh news’. Yes, the hotel is sold.
That, for sure, is a sign, my necklace falling was maybe not really a bad omen...
Résumé will be back on the tracks tomorrow, but today’s plan is REST: Flash Forward is waiting for me.
And I’ll be back to you, with this Vel d’Hiv’s story, quite soon: this post was meant to be very long because i thought of including it but really, i much rather have 'Vodka' as the only allusion to Poland today.