Tuesday April 24
If she were staying in Paris, my daughter told me, she would have coffee every day at the Café de la Mairie in front of St. Suplice, the same café where I started this trip. Perhaps the determination to follow my three muses has kept me from enjoying the simple pleasures of Paris.
Tuesday began with another delicious walk to the Alliance Francaise through the Luxembourg Gardens. In today’s class, one discussion focused on my thumb whose size causes many mistakes when using my phone. Finding the word for thumb in French (le pouce) was another challenge although saying it was not. A great relief.
After class, I made my way to the Café de la Marie for lunch: a tartine avec du fromage et du jambon (with cheese and ham), a salad, a glass of rose, followed by un café. Two hours watching the comings and goings of people included spying on other customers – what they were eating, what they were reading. Mervielleux.
By then, it was almost three which meant my plan to do some writing was in jeopardy. By the time I polished the piece to post, the Médiathèque, the library at the Irish college, would be closed. Since my iPad was defunct, I use the library’s computers to publish the blog entries. I walked fast, finished the editing, and sent it off. Good thing, as I noticed a poster announcing that two of the artists in residence, James Harpur and Una McKevitt, would be discussing their work that night.
Mr. Harpur spoke of two writers, Claude Le Petit (a free thinker to say the least) and Marguerite Porete, (a mystic) who at great cost to themselves- death-refused to give in to the powers that be. These examples from the 17th and 13th century managed to console me given this dark hour in America. For one, as Mr. Harpur pointed out, the consequences for opposing the authorities were more severe (death by guillotine or burning at the stake) than they are today. For another, illustrations of such commitment support pushing away obstacles that impede freedom.
Ms. McKevitt , a playwrite and director, explained her new work, Madhouse, based on the actual experience of a young man growing up in his family home where several mentally ill patients had been placed, a program that still exists in Ireland. This plan seemed similar to the system in Geel, Belgium, that is, placing the mentally ill in a stable family environment rather than an institution. Since I had worked as a therapist in a clinic designed after Geel, living there with my four year old son, the idea of the residents’ perspective intrigued me. We discussed that due to their relationship to reality, including their views might be distracting and confusing.
Afterwards, another poet and I chose Café Delmas on Place de la Contrescarpe for dinner around the corner from where Hemingway lived. Accompanying the burgers we ordered were French fries in a cup. We chose to eat by the window for people watching; however, the tables were quite small, too small for our order. Maneuvering our plates, our drinks, our cups of French fries proved difficult: within a few minutes, we managed to send our Pommes Frites redolent with catsup flying over our shoulders, missing the adjoining tables, and splattering to the floor in a red heap. As they say, you can take the girl out of Jersey, but you can’t take Jersey out of the girl. C’est la vie.