Fezzik In Paris

Two Americans, three cats, and too many places named "de Gaulle"

Walking into Les archives nationales, one gets the feeling that while they do technically have a museum with a handful of (actually very exciting) documents on display, most people wander in more or less on a whim, and only because the two main hôtels that make up that particular part of the archives are so nicely preserved. It is thus with a bit of surprise that I can report that their current exhibit, chronicling the abuse of the French national archives (in the Revolution, in the uprisings of 1848, in the commune, in the Franco-Prussian war, in the first world war, and most recently in the second world war) was well worth the six euros each (plus a whopping 2€ for an affiche and a further 10€ for one of the memory games we so like to play when inebriated) that we paid.

While the aforementioned laundry list of civil strife resulted in all sorts of horrors being perpetrated on otherwise defenseless codices, cahiers, ledgers, papers, binders, and other written records, (I should note that the curation displays a wry sense of humor; the section regarding the Revolution-era pillage of the archives also featured the blood-stained desk on which Robespierre spent his pre-guillotine last night) the exhibit injected a needed bit of levity in the form of an experiment that was conducted early in the year in which, with the help of an apparently-amused group of pompiers, the archives decided to see exactly what it looks like when fire is applied to some rather large books and documents (said documents were extraneous duplicates).

As it turns out, that shit burns.

July is gone.

The fact that we existed during the month of June and continue to exist in the month of August demonstrates that we were extant during July as well, though there is little photographic evidence of said existence.

It’s the existential squeeze theorem, though I suppose the squeeze theorem is already existential if you subscribe to the philosophy that calculus is life. Confession: I use far less calculus in a direct professional capacity than I had expected (conceptually, however…). We won’t speak of my lingering disappointment at the abject lack of differential equations to be solved, nor will I comment on just how little MATLAB and just how much Excel are used.

July, however, is still gone.

Let us then reflect on what we accomplished:

  • We enjoyed a few days of a cat-free apartment;
  • We requested that the cats be returned to us early, owing to our unexpectedly early return;
  • We promptly regretted requesting that the cats be returned to us;
  • We wandered around La défense (subsequent to seeing Wonder Woman);
  • We hid from the heat;
  • We hid from the rain;
  • We wandered out to Pompidou at some point;
  • We got sick of hiding, but with the Purrito out of commission, my excitement was limited to becoming lost in the 15e, owing to a dead phone;
  • I drafted a blog post about getting lost in the 15e in which I compared my then-dying phone to a dying animal (“…as the last of the heat ebbs from its plastic body…”), decided that this comparison was really fucking disgusting, and abandoned the post on principle;
  • I gave up on watching the Tour de France pass by when the live tracker on their site insisted on malfunctioning for the entire day of the Tour;
  • July ended, and here we are.

Oh look, a few token pictures.

We’re back.

(I’d start with the lyrics from Without Me, but at some point the album whence it came turned 16 years old. Holy shit.)

In truth, we have been back for four days at this point, but I haven’t been in the mood to write and we have been a touch distracted; upon opening the door to our apartment Wednesday morning, we noticed a section of plaster on the floor, the result of a new water leak. Having roused both the management company and our insurance company and then dealt with the plumber on Thursday, we then spent much of Friday waiting for Darty to deliver our shiny new dishwasher as ours threw an error code stating that its mainboard had burned out after we tried to do the first batch of post-return dishes.

As for Houston? It was, well, Houston. While the Purrito has been making regular jaunts to carry things back and check on the house, this visa run was my first time back in the US in three years. This trip basically confirmed what I had suspected; three years of living in Paris has soured my outlook on a city that I never really loved, but had at least made peace with in the year or two before we came over here. Strip malls, traffic, and over-salted, at times unexpectedly sweet food are what stand out to me in my current (admittedly still jet-lagged) state; I’m grateful for the anti-high-fructose-corn-syrup movement that seems to have taken hold, which made selecting food somewhat easier for me, but holy shit are food portions huge, and when the fuck did 20-ounce bottles become the norm for Coke (disclaimer, owing to having grown up in Albuquerque)?

Confronted with the existence of all of three museums and Space Center Houston (which we did not end up visiting owing to extreme heat the first weekend and intense rain and packing the second weekend) in the “cultural activities” category, we saw, with renewed clarity, that there really is not much to do other than eat and buy shit, so the Purrito cooked (ask us how much catfish we ate [or don’t]), we bought shit (not that we didn’t possess Lego before…), we watched strange “family” movies (The NeverEnding Story, Labyrinth, and Where the Wild Things Are; Target’s $5 DVD collection was, shall we say, interesting), and we bobbed around in the temporary corporate housing’s apartment complex’ saltwater pool.

All that said, it could be the residual jet lag, but my memories of the trip are actually more positive than portrayed above; due to the strange schedule I was working from our kitchen table in an attempt to mitigate the seven hour difference with France, we found many of our afternoons free, and it has been quite a long time since we’ve had so much time together. It was usually running errands or grabbing Starbucks (again, nothing to do but eat and buy shit), but it was time with the Purrito, and for that I am always grateful.

It was with a not-entirely-unexpected degree of heavy-heartedness that we shut the door last night; it was the final lesson with our tutor of the last few months. While he’ll be in Paris for a little while longer before departing to finish his PhD, our own imminent departure mandated a bit of an early goodbye.

It is an admittedly Quixotic trait, given the very nature of existence, but if I am honest, I have never been at ease with the way people float in and then out of life. This facet of the universe not being at all resistible or susceptible to negotiation, persuasion, or rage, I’ve made a tacit peace with it, or so I tell myself.

There is a certain degree of incongruity when it comes to people in Paris; I find it jarring that there are several-hundred-year-old churches and we live on a street that has been a street for 800 years, but less than half of the Purrito’s original crew of friends remain in the country after two years. People come and go, but buildings, I suppose, are longer-lasting (not being built out of pine matchsticks probably helps).

In any case, we wished our now-former tutor well with a glass of wine and an honest attempt at using the subjunctive case like civilized human beings as opposed to the savages that we are.

And once we return, we’ll contact the tutoring agency and welcome somebody else into our lives.

While last weekend was surprisingly productive from the standpoint of The List, we wound up chasing our tails this weekend, owing to a creeping sense of dread.

Last week’s four-day weekend (it’s quite easy to faire le pont when it’s the company telling you to take the Friday off) consisted of a fair amount of (unfortunately high-temperature) relaxation time, a jaunt to les Invalides, a trip to the Crazy Horse, and a visit to the grand palais where we managed to knock two exhibits off of The List.

As to the source of this week’s dread, what we had thought would be an annoying but otherwise unremarkable visa renewal will actually require a trip back to Houston for a stay of a few weeks as we have to submit the paperwork in person, and in our home country. As that flight will happen a week from Monday, this was our last weekend that won’t be spent shipping off the cats and packing.

Sigh.

If a pillow slides down a chair, and a cat is not there to sit on it, does anyone notice?

Fezzik witnessed such a furniture shift. and didn’t hesitate to take advantage; he now refuses to sit on the chair unless the pillow is horizontal.

Owing to the imperious faces that come along with planting his fat ass on the pillow, we have christened this configuration of cat-upon-pillow The Moosearajah.