I started the day a little late. I had already packed my bag of books, planned out the bookstores I would visit, and I just needed to get up. I’m still a bit jet-lagged and definitely didn’t sleep well, so I didn’t leave the house until 11. The intention was to take a short walk to Nation (Metro Line 1) and then ride that to Notre Dame, near my first stop for books, Shakespeare and Company. I turned at a different place AND, used to the London system where the Tube is very easily identifiable, I almost missed the metro. Turns out, at least around Nation, you just need to know that it’s there. A shopkeeper pointed me to the stairwell to go underground. Side note: I asked in bad French; she answered in halting English, which is a sign that I was that HORRIBLE in her language that she reached out in mine. She just knew I was an English speaker. Yikes. Had to get a 1.70 Euro for one ticket as the ticket machine wouldn’t take my card, didn’t take cash over a twenty, and I didn’t have 13.70 Euro on me.
I arrived by Notre Dame around 11:30/12 (bought my carnet there), just in time for lunch and not in time (1pm) to head to the off site book purchasing store for Shakespeare and Company. I headed to a nearby Vietnamese place (spring rolls as it was SUPER hot). I passed the time but not well. It’s strange not having the ease of technology or things to do or write always in hand … or people to talk to. 10 Euro for lunch
After satisfying my hunger, I headed to the Shakespeare and Company bookshop. Lesson for the future: email the store to make a connection with the staff in charge of consignment. It would have saved me so much trouble. I didn’t do that and would up carrying way too many books from the off-site inventory (got lost on the way) to Shakespeare and Company (got lost again on the way) to find out that Terry, in charge of consignment, was not there until 4:30. Arriving at 1:20 or so I had 3 hours to kill!
Since I was there, I figured why not cruise around the bookstore. Can we say, “dreamy”? YES! That store is so amazing. I kind of want to live there, especially on the second floor where there is a room with an open window, an open desk, and a typewriter, newspaper, and pen just waiting for the writer to come and make a home. It was BEAUTIFUL!! There was a couple there who were just hanging out with the ghosts in the room, because it felt so good in the space, I’m guessing. I broke the no pictures rule and took one there. I had to! A dark studio, bookshelves all around, an open window, a view of the street and the Seine and Notre Dame? Can you blame me? On Sunday I’m planning on going to mass at Notre Dame. I’m hoping to make another stop at Shakespeare and Company to enjoy the scene. I also enjoyed that Kevin’s (Simmonds) first book, Mad for Meat, was there in bulk. 🙂 The store’s just beautiful. If I lived in Paris, I would probably be there once a week or so. If you go to Paris, this needs to be a stop, especially if you have any connection whatsoever to the literary arts.
After Shakespeare and Company, I decided to try to hit up the next bookstore on my list: Berkeley Books in Paris. I obviously need data in Paris. Unlike London (generally … I got lost there a bit, but not nearly as severely), I cannot seem to trust all the maps and JPEGs I provide myself to travel or the buildings are wrapped in that glimmer that prevents one from seeing them. Half an hour of walking up and down streets to find the right Rue, I gave it up and decided to head to the next bookstore on my list, San Francisco Books.
Michael Neal, the proprietor, was right there, front and center, ready with a fantastic wit and literally a book of limericks. I ended up buying it, if only because of how awesome he was in chatting. I was hoping to sell some books on consignment, but didn’t happen there. Still, a woman overheard that I was a poet on tour. Turns out her name is Kristin Seymour. She knows a few of my fellow CC family in Lexington, Kentucky. She and her husband bought a book. Crazy small world! So I sold a book in a bookshop that wouldn’t buy my books. 🙂 And then I proceeded to buy that book of limericks for more than what my book cost… but I like the idea of supporting the story. It’s a great small store. Perhaps next time I come to Paris, we can make a connection, maybe do a little reading or something. Could be cool. Michael just had such a way of talking about his books! Loved that. The store felt homey in a way that was natural. Shakespeare and Co. felt like a place I want to belong. San Francisco Books felt like a place where I just might belong already.
Still time to kill.
Enter the coffee and sorbet that nearly bankrupted me.
I’m used to a 5 Euro or so glass of wine. I should have known it would be expensive when I didn’t see a menu out. I just ordered a glass of the house wine and sorbet. 14 Euro later (WHAT HAPPENED THERE?!) I was cooler and also more broke. 🙂 Still, cooler was definitely necessary as I was so sticky. I had tried again to find Berkeley Books to another epic fail. 15 books in my bad and a heavy purse and I was just covered in sweat, saltiness, gross-ocity. Epic fail = epically gross body I needed that sorbet … the wine was a bad decision, considering how it dehydrates.
A quick stop by Notre Dame and back again and Terry was there … I had emailed him in the mean time (found some free wifi – score!) but of course, no one checks email as frequently as I usually do. He was there and he was not buying books on consignment. But he did order two copies of the new book for the shelves. Small success, but I was still carrying books.
So it’s 4:30 and I decide, well, why not walk to the Louvre. I had planned on starting the morning there, thinking that I would be done this little errand by 2 or so. As that didn’t happen, I figured, why not take in the Seine, the people, the gardens, the plaza, the pyramids and save the museum for another day? Great idea … on a spring day, not hot, sticky Paris with a BAG OF BOOKS! Oh how deep can the fail go? 🙂 I saw so much, took pictures, enjoyed those moments of stillness and breeze. About halfway towards the Tuileries, I decided to just give it up and head to the venue. I had already been lost enough and decided that sitting in a space would be good. Maybe I’d get some writing done.
So, I headed from Pont Neuf to Belleville at around 5 or so. I tried to get some money to only realize that Paris hates my ATM card … well, non-touristy parts of Paris hate my ATM card. This put me into a mild panic as I only had about 25 Euro left on me … luckily there was a currency exchange place there. I exchanged my remaining pounds (not the best rate, but it made me feel better) and headed to relax at Culture Rapide. 10 Euro (1 tea, 1 glass of wine, 1 ginger lemonade) for about 4 hours of relaxation and watching the world pass by.
Culture Rapide feels good. There’s a large outside space with plenty of tables, chairs, and shade. Lots of young people, a few parents, some elders. It’s a good mix of folks that come. At around 6, the tables fill up and stay filled for about an hour and a half. Cigarettes? A few, but it’s not overpowering. A little disturbing to see parents smoking with kids in their laps, but I realize that’s a cultural thing (though it’s really not healthy, and I kind of wanted to shake some folk).
It was interesting spending time at cafes yesterday. Going to a cafe alone is sort of an anomaly. I saw only one man by himself at a table the whole day. Everyone else was with someone or with several people. Generally, it was an activity for two. In addition, while I did see cell phones, there were no laptops or iPads. No writing that needs that sort of technology was done. In fact, later at the open mic, I pulled out my iPad and that was mentioned as if it was so high tech. A few folks read off their phones, but I didn’t see an iPad or tablet anywhere. Very different for me, especially since I do so much with tech.
As I waited for the reading to begin, I spent a lot of time trying to relax. Suddenly a heavy intake of breath would occur with its complement of the ponderous exhale. Though the day had felt rushed before, I was starting to settle into the time.
I had already decided on my order, but I kept refining it. Ended up being most of what I’ve read before with the addition of GED and The Second Squirrel. The crowd felt like they needed funny, so I read The Second Squirrel. It’s my only funny poem, I think, but most people didn’t start laughing until midway through. Bad move with using “Maybe this time” within this context. I didn’t think of the whole German cabaret/pre-World War II connection and reading it in Paris. At least, that’s why I’m thinking it didn’t connect as well. I was just thinking of the lyrics and the connection to hope … but it’s obviously a poem I still need to work on. I like working these things out at readings, though.
The open mic at Culture Rapide is run by Emily, Jason, and Kate of Paris Lit Up. They have a little collective going with workshops, a journal, and an anthology in addition to the open mic. Brilliant! All are super approachable, and they even participate on the open mic, if there is time. Very cool. People sang, recited the poetry of others, read from the poetry/novels of others, read from their own poetry/novels, sang original songs, and then there was me with two sets (10 minutes after the first half and 10 after the second). I have so many quotes written down from the night. Met a poet from England who gave me a connection to a store in England. I’ll reach out to see about arranging a reading for next summer. I met a teacher from New York who teaches her students poetry through performance. I wanted to connect her with some of the Louder Arts folk. I met another poet, an African American undergrad, who 1) thought I was young enough to be in undergrad, 2) is in Paris learning about African Americans in Paris, 3) comes from a slam background, 4) is interested in pursuing graduate study and a PhD, 5) is in North Carolina (Charlotte), and 6) is interested in learning about how to do a tour. Cool. We may have lunch on Saturday.
After the reading, I went home, had a drink (2.20), ate some cashews, and went to sleep.
10 Euro lunch
13 Euro for limericks
10 Euro beverages
50.60 for the day. Made 26 in book sales, so all in all 24.60 for the day. Not bad.