Friday, April 29, 2011

Just Another Week

Really? It's been how long since I put up a blog post?

Well, no, it hasn't been all that long. But I'll admit that I was feeling a tiny nag of guilt until I actually thought about it. What have I done, after all, since I put that last one up? Not a hell of a lot. I've sat here at my desk, written a couple of Fresh Air scripts, edited them, and recorded them. I read a very dull book from a university press having to do with a book I'm researching, took some notes, and spent several days cruising around the Internet, finding videos that were more or less relevant, following up leads I found in them, hitting the odd dead end or two, and sending out e-mails to people with questions. Sometimes they wrote back. I nagged some people to pay me and watched the dollar sink against the Euro. I counted my pennies and realized I'd be economizing (to put it euphemistically) for the forseeable future. I cooked cabbage blossoms and asparagus, indulged in a small basket of strawberries, which were nice, and thanked heaven I know so many ways to prepare pasta.

And it turned beautiful outside. As I type this, it's beautiful outside: upper 60s (F), sunny, very slight breeze. I just came back from a nice walk which could have been a lot nicer: I bought a very limited edition reprint of some magazines I need for my book research, which cost me more than I could afford, but which will be invaluable in getting this project out the door so my agent can sell it. I was lucky: most places have already sold out. I've been gnawing my fingernails waiting. This morning, I found a note in my mailbox which said La Poste had a "paquet volumineux" for me at the post office. The one across the Comédie? Nope. The one up the hill by the Prefecture? Nope. The one a mile from my house? That's the one! Not that, after 30 minutes of two women running around, they found it. Nope. Sorry. (My own theory, based on the crossouts of the date on the slip, is that the slip went into the box today and the lazy post person just didn't bother to ring the bell and the package is on its way back and I can get it on Monday. I hope so, anyway. I'm screwed if it's lost.)

But it was a nice walk there and back. Really.

Still, is that worth writing about? I just did: you be the judge. But it's symptomatic of something larger: not much happens here. When it does, I tend to write about it. But mostly stuff doesn't happen. France's seventh-largest city, but that doesn't mean much. I suspect the gap between Paris and whatever's in second place is pretty big. And that the next step down is, too. Sure, we have a huge art museum, but it's stuffed with mediocre art. It gets some interesting travelling shows, but the temporary show right now is drawings from the museum's own collection. Across the Esplanande from that, they're taking down the last dull photographic show to, most likely, put up another one. Yes, there's an opera, but I'm not big on opera, and anyway, the repertoire is as dull and stereotypical as you might expect from a provincial company in France's seventh-largest city.

In short, things move slowly here, and the good stuff often isn't on the surface. Look at that photo at the top of this post. I went out to shoot sometime this winter because I was bored, and I sure didn't get much.  That was one of, I think, two pictures I shot that day. There's not much in it, on the surface. But I see things you don't. That sandstone building with the shuttered window and the balcony is actually triangular and has a courtyard. It's a very old building and has very high walls, and fascinates me every time I walk past it. No idea what it is or if anyone lives there. And much further up the road, if you look carefully, it takes a crook to the right, at which point there are a couple of places where people take lunch outdoors in nice weather (it had just rained in the photo) and in a minute, you're near some interesting places. Anyone who visits me here and gets the guided tour is likely to walk this street at some point because it leads to some interesting bits of local history. But it sure doesn't look like it here.

So this next week is likely to see more of the same: me surfing around, with luck reading these magazines if La Poste finally finds them, occasionally standing up, impatient with hanging around this tiny apartment, still crowded with unpacked boxes from my move here in 2008 (the landlord lied, as I may have noted: he told me the place was 50 square meters and when he sold the place at the end of last year a guy with one of those little laser-measurers came here and did his thing and informed me that the place was 44 square meters, of which two were the balcony, so considering I moved from a 60 square meter place in Berlin, you can see why it's tight), and putting on my hat and walking off up the hill to see what, if anything, has changed.

And probably nothing will have. And if it has, it very likely isn't worth noting here.

But there will be blog posts for the forseeable future. Because things do change that are worth noting. Because I'm certain I'll be travelling again before long. And because this place remains worth looking at.

UPDATE, SATURDAY: La Poste found my package! They even called to tell me. Three minutes before closing time. But I'll be back there on Monday, make no mistake...

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