Saturday, August 8, 2009


I'm back from the market, and I'm not terribly proud of myself. I left here with €30 in my pants and came back with €7 and change. That's not good: with the visits to the nose doctor and all, I'm biting the rent money too hard, and that's got to stop.

Not all of this is bad, of course: I was out of olive oil, so I knew that was €7.50 gone. One uses a lot of olive oil in the summer, making salad dressing and cooking eggplant and all. So that's an okay expense. But there was one huge mistake.

Here's today's haul. Very colorful, no? There's the olive oil, and in the lower right-hand corner some other expensive goodies: about €5 from a brand-new stand selling local stuff. That's a hunk of Cantal cheese and a kind of local pancetta, which goes into the pasta sauce I've got planned tonight, as do those tomatoes, which may be too fleshy to work in a sauce, but I've got a €3 kilo of them to play with, so we shall see. €2.50 for the mora des bois strawberries (since that's what they're called, and yes, I know they're not wild strawberries, but they're good), a euro's worth of garlic, and two more worth of very weird-looking organic eggplants. So: €20 down, including the olive oil.

See that melon and those three peaches? Look good, don't they? A Satanic €6.66. How did that happen? Stupidity, plain and simple. I became addicted to the STOSS peaches I bought on Tuesday (that stands for Stand Over The Sink, Stupid, a name which becomes very obvious once you chomp into one ) and was going to get some more. These smelled good, and I also wanted a melon. There were melons all over the place, and there was a stand with some Spanish-seeming guys running it where they were shoving pieces of peaches in your face on the end of long knives, so I tried one, checked the melons, and ordered up a melon and three peaches.

I should have just declined to pay and walked off, but I wasn't on top of my game. The guys downstairs are back, and they came in around 3 and started drinking and yelling again, as well as hauling some stuff around. I don't know what these guys do for a living, but I do know that they do this entirely too much and don't respond to requests to stop. The couple of times I've tried, their girlfriends go "Ssshhhhh!" and giggle, they quiet down for a while, more beer is drunk and they're back to playing bad hip-hop, yelling over it, and, finally, singing football songs. They partied on until 7am, and I managed to block some of the noise by closing the bedroom windows, turning the room into an oven once the sun came up further. but I was worried about a piece I had to write today (which seems to have come out okay, thanks to the tension and anxiety I kept foremost in my psyche til I could get back from the market and write it).

I'm an idiot. If one of my accounts receivable doesn't pay off this week, I'm screwed. I've been so happy to have my sense of smell and taste back (albeit intermittently: it was off last night, for some reason) that I've just let it get the better of me. I have to realize something: this stuff isn't going away, people do produce it and sell it for reasonable prices, I can say no. It's also true that I shouldn't be in a position where a small misstep like this threatens so much of my economic foundations, but how was I to know 45 years ago that I was entering a doomed profession?

(Incidentally, I got to go on the BBC and reminisce a bit about my early days yesterday, which you can hear by clicking the third music cue on this page).

The good news is that, what with the leftover White Rat, the two days' worth of sauce this evening's meal will provide, a nice traditional Sunday big breakfast with fried potatoes, eggs, and that amazing garlic saussicon sec from the last market, and some of the other stuff around the house, I won't need to spend a whole lot for a while, and may even skip the Tuesday market unless there's an obvious need.

Still: this event has scared and chastened me. I hate that it has, but without discipline, I'm not going to survive, and unless I do that, I can't do the work that will bring me to a level where a ten-buck mistake won't eat at my conscience.


  1. Check your email :)

  2. Thank you, Maskperson!

    I realize now that the end of this post looks like I was begging, which happens when you can just push a button and regret at leisure. What I'm *actually* doing is psyching myself up for a fairly scary move which could work towards pushing up to that next level, while realizing that I also have other stuff to do before I can do that.

    Plus, of course, worrying about the health and all. This, too, will change. For the better, let us hope.

  3. Always happy to help a friend with peaches. Good luck on that next step.

  4. I followed the BBC link and suddenly realized you are _that_ Ed Ward, the one that I've enjoyed so much on Fresh Air. I promise you that the next time I'm in Montpellier, and I hope it will be soon, I'm offering to buy dinner.

  5. The radio clip presents both Ed and John M. as mature, wise, and honest. These three key attributes are generally absent in "journalism" to-day. I wish both of you were professors. Our society needs a free press represented by folks like you have grown to become. There are way too many "company" men and women today as well.

  6. Dang, Eric, Im totally up for that! I'm even up for it when I'm flush, since there are, oh, maybe 16 restaurants I've been wanting to try here, and five more I haven't been back to in a long time.

    And Don, I wish I was a professor, too, so I could be tenured and have a salary!

  7. I don't understand why you don't call the cops on the neighbors. French cops love beating the shit out of loud students and you know the cops will find cocaine up there when they raid the place

  8. Bart, these are the *downstairs* neighbors, and they're not going to find anything down there except really drunk guys and beer. Trust me on this.

    And I don't call the cops because a) I don't have the number and b) I can't be bothered to raise the adrenaline: I'd rather just go back to sleep.


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