i wait in 4/4 time…

my favorite part about traveling is that plans rarely go as expected and this is almost always a good thing…i’ve learned over the years to plan less and enjoy those random, fortunate moments that you experience and i’ve also found that they almost always involve meeting or reconnecting with people…there are likely a lot of reasons for my delay since my last post (my own laziness and general disdain for the process of writing included)…but certainly the best excuse is that i have spent seven of the last ten days in paris and brussels reconnecting with my friend neepa from high school…

i’ve grown very fond of people that i’ve managed to stay in touch with and feel connected to despite large distances or periods of time passing in between meetings…i met neepa in a high school (much like my friend bill) science class and my oldest memory of her is thinking she must have been amazingly cool because she liked sonic youth (this was an accurate assessment)…we shared a handful of high school stories over the course of the last week and a half but also noted that in between the time i graduated and the time i saw her next (about two years ago) eight full years had passed…we hung out briefly when she was doing some work in nyc for lunch and i recalled then that it was very easy to talk with her…one of those things that only happens with friends that you know really connect with you…

neepa came down to visit me and another high school friend who happened to be in paris a couple of weekends ago…our personalities work well together because she has a lot of spastic energy and talks about a mile a minute…this mixed well with my general vacation mentality in which i behave like my mind is constantly playing brian eno’s music for airports…she’s also extremely photo happy…this is a great thing for my amma who complains that i don’t take enough pictures when i travel…thanks to neepa i now, literally, have hundreds…

we did a lot of wandering around the city, drinking a lot of wine, eating a lot of falafel and staying up late into the night sharing all those stories that you have lying around when you don’t speak to someone for such a long time…among my favorite paris adventure so war was our trip to centre pompidou…i generally appreciate modern art museums (though certain rooms do test my patience) and their roy lichtenstein exhibit was incredible…i’ve liked several of his pieces that are part of moma’s permanent collection and it was nice to see his entire career’s work in one place and wander through the timeline of it all…neepa and i both enjoyed the rooms that contained some of his reinterpretations of works from picasso and monet and we had a nice discussion about the way in which visual artists borrow from other artists…afterwards we had a nice milkshake on the rooftop cafe and enjoyed the view of the city…pompidou’s roof offers my favorite view of paris because you can see notre dame, the eiffel tower and sacre couer from the top…

centre pompidou avec neepa...

centre pompidou avec neepa…

after she left, i spent a couple of days working on school work before i hopped on the high speed train to brussels…i love trains and man does this thing move…i was in brussels in about an hour and we spent the next few days just wandering around and exploring the city…neepa’s an extremely thorough tour guide, which i appreciated…she knew the city inside and out and also had a wealth of knowledge about the history of the buildings which i enjoyed being life-long history nerd…

i was a little under the weather when i arrived, so i took a short nap after lunch…when i woke up we went out for a super nice vegetarian dinner and met up with a few of her friends…the weather was amazing for a summer night and thanks to liberal laws about the consumption of alcohol her friends were able to grab some booze and sit in the middle of a nice outdoor plaza and just drink and talk…there are few things in life that beat nice weather, nice company and good conversation…it felt like everything that makes summer amazing and i was grateful to have had the experience…

yesterday, brussels was grey and rainy all day but we still ventured out and explored…our shoes were soaked after a few hours of walking around and after a delicious falafel sandwich with belgian frites tucked inside i managed to convince neepa to take me to the comic museum…she obliged and indulged the child in me and it was definitely an interesting (and dry) experience looking through the history of comics in general and some of the belgian specific comic history (which is quite rich)…we also talked about how amazing garfield minus garfield is and why family circus totally sucks…

me + neepa + brussels...

me + neepa + brussels…

we spent the entire day out and ended up back at neepa’s apartment around eleven for dinner…like normal indian people…then she made all this amazing bengali food…

neepa making dinner at eleven...

neepa making dinner at eleven…

homemade indian food...nothing beats it...

homemade indian food…nothing beats it…

and i ate it…it was seriously the best meal i’ve had since i left my parents house a month ago…afterwards we had some incredible scotch and called it a night…

fifteen year...

fifteen year…

today, we had a slow morning and headed down to a big belgian market where the moroccan immigrant community makes an amazing sandwhich filled with fresh olives, tomatoes, feta cheese and a whole bunch of other delicious stuff for only a few euros…they also gave us free moroccan tea which was deliciously sweet…afterwards, i picked up some belgian chocolate for my parents and we headed to a small bar by her apartment…we had a few drinks and chatted for a few more hours and it was really nice to talk to someone about everything from comic strips to radical political movements and feel connected through it all…we grabbed some food when left the bar, headed to her apartment and had some whiskey on her porch before i had to pack and head to the train station…it was a bit sad to leave and we’re both hoping our paths cross again sooner rather than later…

i just arrived in paris and i’m looking forward to the last few days i have here before heading back to the BK…

ooxx aa

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it’s beautiful here too…

every superchunk album is amazing…really…all of them – i’ve listened to most of them over the course of the last week and it has proven what i already knew to be true…the timing was perfect since i just picked up a pair of tickets to see them at bowery ballroom in september…i’m very excited about this since i have yet to see them in a competent venue where the sound will be reliable…i was said to read recently that laura is no longer touring with the band due to hearing issues garnered from years of loud rock shows…but i’m certain they’ll put on a great show…

you can really start with any superchunk album…but my favorite is indoor living and my favorite superchunk song of all time is this one…

since my last post i have spent the majority of my time walking around paris and visiting a few new parks…my favorite so far was buttes chaumont in the 19th…the park is only a 20 minute walk from my apartment and a slight detour will land you at the mexican joint i mentioned in my last post…on sunday, i grabbed a veggie burrito, made way over to the park and had lunch…then i laid out in the park  on a day where the weather was perfect – blue skies with just enough cloud cover to keep the sun from being over bearing…

i finally got around to reading the full article in Time regarding people choosing not to have children…it was a nice read, though heavily focused on a woman’s perspective/choice to do this…this makes sense, obviously, but i thought it would have been interesting to hear from more men deciding to live child-free lives…

running in paris is very problematic because wherever you run you always end up running past something that looks like this…

the inside was filled with chocolate...

the inside was filled with chocolate…

i mean…am really supposed to pass something like this and NOT consume it?…it tasted exactly as you might imagine it to be…

bill is heading back to the states this week so we hung out a couple of times this weekend…on friday, we met up near the sentier metro stop and had dinner at a lovely little italian joint…we were both very hungry so we split a traditional veggie pizza and ordered some homemade pasta as well..we also killed this bottle of wine, and it was amazing…

yum...

yum…

we then proceeded to grab some gelato…

tiramisu, dark chocolate, and coffee...

tiramisu, dark chocolate, and coffee…

bill enjoyed south indian food so much he wanted to back one more time before leaving paris so we met up at saravana bhaven for dinner on sunday night…we were both starving and ordered a ton of food and a few beers…in addition to some vada and dosa, i was extra hungry, so i ordered some phoori…deep fried to perfection and the potato porial to go along side it wasn’t too shabby either…

phoori...

phoori…

sitting in parks has been very productive from a writing perspective…i’ve finished mostly writing four new songs and hope to double that before the end of this trip…it’s been nice to demo stuff on my phone and send them off to ron, marwan and chris to get feedback and ideas…they’ve been super helpful and it definitely feels good for the soul to be working on music again more seriously…

still thinking about education, as always, and new york state finally released the full data/results from last years standardized tests…i could care less about standardized tests, but i did find it interesting how much charter schools bombed on this thing…gary rubenstein did a nice job analyzing this and includes graphs to illustrate his points…another worthwhile read…

ooxx aa

if not now, whenever…

it began to pour around 5 am last night and the sound of the rain beating on roof of the apartment building woke me…this was a good thing as i had left most of my windows open and i was able to shut them in time…i enjoy sleeping through rain storms and thunderstorms as silence generally makes it impossible for me to get into a deep sleep…and i do love my deep sleep…

the aftermath of this – is a very dreary day with a lot of cloud cover implying that it can and will rain at a moment’s notice…so i thought it an apt time to sit down and write a new post…the last couple of days i’ve used mostly as utility days…days to get some work done for the coming school year, listen to a lot of music i’d been meaning to check out, and work on writing some new songs of my own…it’s been a really nice way to relax, albeit less exciting in terms of having something to write about…

i’m finding, as i travel more, that it always takes me about a week to get settled into a trip…the first few days are usually hard and i often find myself naturally wanting to be home…this used to bother me on my first trips, but i’ve realized now that it’s just something that happens and then goes away relatively quickly…you just have to stay the course…

this week i’ve felt really at home here in the paris…i think it’s a mixture of finally being comfortable with the streets in my neighborhood – i’m not longer thinking about where to walk or paying attention to the street names to get back and forth from wherever i am to my apartment…

i spent the last couple of days writing in small cafes in the 10th arrondissement…right by the canal st martin and i am finding that if i had to do it over again i would definitely stay in this area…it’s much quieter than my current neighborhood but still filled with a lot of local energy…the canal is really nice to be around as well…being able to sit by water and just think is a real luxury…

i went back to saravana bhavan yesterday for lunch and along with a some vada and dosa, i treated myself to a rose milk…

rose milk

rose milk

this is a favorite, south indian concoction made from rose petal syrup, milk and sugar…good indian restaurants do it well and my amma does it better…it’s the best one i’ve had in a long time…i posted this on facebook and i’d forgotten how many of my friends have had one of these thanks to hanging out at my house and having my amma around to offer it…it is almost universally loved…which, you can probably tell, by looking at the picture…

i’ve been doing quite a bit of eating the last couple of days and it has all been delicious…in no particular order…

penne all arrabiata...spicy!

penne all arrabiata…spicy!

tiramisu

tiramisu

amazing random salad

amazing random salad

and i snapped this on my way home…it reminds me of every night i’ve walked him in this city…

paris side street

paris side street

i have been enjoying my vacation and trying not to think about work too much…although it can not be helped when august rolls around…i have noticed that july beautifully crawls by – a nice slow burn to enjoy the summer…but august steam rolls towards september and the first day of school…

i am mostly nervous to be starting work at a new school with new expectations and a different group of students…and also with girls in class…my principal reached out to check in on all the teachers and i thought that was very nice…i’ve gotten a great vibe from her every time we’ve spoken and she strikes me as the kind of person who is extremely organized, really experienced (15ish years of teaching experience and has a deep love for being around children (something i witnessed and looked for on my visits to the school)…and something that i find completely lacking with most new “administrators” who have little to no teaching experience…

gary rubenstein penned another great blog post recently addressing some of the new rhetoric that teach for america heads are using these days…recently focused on the new leaders’ (who, again, have extremely limited teaching experience) use of the words “status-quo” in an attempt to bash educators who are not on board with the new corporate reform movements…it’s definitely worth a read…i certainly have a lot to say on this, but i will save it for another time…i do hope that gary is right that this entire ponzi-scheme of corporate education reform will collapse in a couple of years…although, i agree with him, that he is being extremely optimistic…

in the face of all this nonsense, i think the best thing we can do is teach…and i am looking forward to another day of cafe work and planning for this upcoming year…

ooxx aa

no compass, no northstar…

in paris, you can spend six hours nursing a drink at a restaurant or cafe and no one will be even slightly bothered…in fact, no one even brings you a check unless you ask for it…i’d witnessed this numerous times when i’ve been in europe in the past – but i find that it’s even more prevalent here…i appreciate this and took full advantage of it after i had brunch at a lovely little cafe near my apartment…i had brought reading material as well as my notebook and enjoyed the sidewalk seating so much that i just read and wrote for the rest of the afternoon without incident…i did order a drink or two periodically…it’s nice that the french seem to start drinking sometime around eleven and, while rarely drunk, seem always buzzed…

i took it easy on friday because it was unbearably hot outside and couldn’t fathom wandering around the city all day in the heat…although, inexplicably, i did get up early enough to go for a six mile run…i ran opposite the direction i have been running to explore the canal a little east of my apartment…it ended up being about a six mile run with a few breaks in between to admire a park or art installation…this is much longer than i usually run (three miles is normally my limit) but only because of the random entertainment breaks…i did find that running was a nice way of covering ground relatively quickly while checking out interesting parts of the neighborhoods…all that said, i have been running consistently for a few months now…and i still fucking hate it…

i spend the rest of my friday writing at home and working on some music…i hit the sack early because i needed to get up in the morning to meet my buddy bill at mam…bill is a friend from high school who played trombone in the band…we weren’t the closest of friends but he was certainly always one of the nicer guys i remember and i hadn’t seen him in 12 years…we caught up quickly as we examined the museums offerings…

mam is one of the few free museums paris has to offer and despite being ignored because of some the larger attractions – it boasts a gigantic permanent gallery…we spent nearly three hours wandering around the many rooms and i found a lot of the exhibits really interesting…my favorite was a series of 3d “paintings” that mixed paint with broken down pieces of various machines – from radios to skateboards…

since the museum was located right by the seine, we took a walk along the water after our visit to look for a lunch spot…we found a pretty typical brasserie and had lunch…i had a croque vegetarien which was decent but i’d certainly had better…we lounged around there and just chatted about a lot of things from life in our respective cities to our frustration with the political landscape of the us…then we did what everyone does when they visit paris…walk…

we walked along the seine, made our way to the jardin du tuileries…i should note here, that somehow, someway, you always end up here when you walk around paris…it was remarkably free of crowds considering it was saturday and the weather was incredible (which we noted to each other numerous times)…we found a place to sit in front of the fountain and relaxed for a while…then we wandered under the shade and found another pair of chairs to rest in…see a theme arising?…these reclined and naturally we ended up falling asleep in the garden for about an hour…when we woke we walked down to the louvre so bill could get a sense of where exactly it was – he’s planning to spend a couple of days there next week…we walked away from the center and the hustle and bustle that was, naturally, building around the museum…

we started hunting for some ice cream off the beaten path and noticed how quickly paris becomes quiet when you get off a main drag…we found a nice italian restaurant that was only serving ice cream in between lunch and dinner and sat down…he had a lemon sorbet and i had a coffee gelato…both were incredible…afterwards we people watched, took in the nice weather and killed another hour or so (i stopped paying attention to the time)…recharged, we walked some more…

this time we ended back making our way over to the gare du nord area…once there, i suggested we head into the sri lankan neighborhood to get some food…bill had never had south indian food before and i’d wanted to check out saravana bhaven – a south indian chain that is typically excellent (though the one in nyc is disappointing)…we started with couple of kingfishers (an indian beer that my appa loves)…and shared a few idlies, dosas and vadas…i was really impressed with the quality of the food – particularly the sambar – bill noticed this as well and enjoyed it…so far, i’d say SB beats khrisna bhaven…although the coconut chutney was definitely better there…

sambar vada

sambar vada

kingfisher beer

kingfisher!

masala dosa

masala dosa

 

we went our separate ways after dinner and i made the relatively short walk back to my apartment…i was exhausted from being out all day and took a shower and crashed…after my morning brunch, i spent the day writing and then found myself with a deep craving for some mexican food…i did a little research and found a lovely little hole-in-the wall joint near the canal st martin…i walked over there and picked up a vegetarian burrito from el nopal…the guys there were super friendly and they made this thing extra spicy for me…

el nopal

el nopal

i took it down to the canal as the restaurant literally had no seating and i sat by the water…it was exactly the way i’d hoped it would be and i pretty much destroyed it in about ten minutes…i people watched for a while – mostly couples making out on a nice sunday evening…and then headed back home…

i’m not sure what i have on the agenda for tomorrow…but i’m leaning heavily towards a trip to centre pompidou…which probably means i’ll be eating another falafel sandwich too…win-win…

ooxx aa

 

under the water it glowed…

i took the metro to the marais yesterday and picked this falafel sandwich from l’as du fallafel…it was very, very good but i still that mi-va-mi was superior…

falafel sandwich from l'as du fallafel

falafel sandwich from l’as du fallafel

after that i had some time to kill before meeting scott at the maison europeene de photographie…i was also still hungry and as i wandered around a lovely storefront with an array of tasty baked goods appeared before me…so i ordered myself one of these and subsequently ate it on the street as i walked around…

coffee eclair

coffee eclair

i headed down to the museum with was extremely easy to find and around the corner from the bakery…they had a nice little courtyard where other folks were milling about waiting for the free hours to open up…scott and i met there and chatted for a bit before the doors opened…as they did, the young lady who was working there put a sign up on the door that due to some air conditioning malfunctions that several of the exhibits had to be closed to protect the photos…this was obviously disappointing but it was also free, so i really had no complaints…

the exhibits that were open were really interesting and all had an odd creepy (but certainly enjoyable) vibe to them…every exhibit seemed to contain only black and white photos…my favorite exhibit contained a series of mostly barren, rock-heavy geographic landscapes…i enjoyed seeing these photos because it’s kind of amazing how “un-earthly” many things on the planet seem…a lot of these photos could have doubled as telescope shots of other planets and i don’t think anyone would have questioned it…

because the bulk of the exhibits were closed, we left the museum within an hour and then headed down to the seine and just began to walk…aimless wandering is one of my favorite traveling past times…the seine in the summer is a pretty amazing sight…everything from man-made beaches with kids running wild and 75 year olds doing ballroom dancing on a dance floor built right up against the river…it was an entertaining walk for sure…

we eventually ended up near the louvre and walked through the jardin des tuileries…eventually we reached a huge building that i thought was some municipal or government space…however, upon closer inspection we found out it was a historic catholic church, though you could never tell from the outside…we headed inside and looked around for a while as the architecture was really compelling…there’s also something nice about how quiet everything is inside a church – especially in a city so much going on outside – it was a nice respite…

when we left i was extremely thirsty, scott was very hungry and we both wanted to stop walking…we headed into the city a bit more to get away from the crowds and find a quiet brasserie to chill…we had a couple of drinks and scott ordered some kind of steak that was served nearly raw (according to him) but he insisted it was good…i’m pretty happy i’m a vegetarian, i have to say…

when all was said and down it was close to 9 pm though it was hard to tell as the sun sets extremely late in paris…i headed home, picked up some bananas to stock my fruit bowl in the apartment and then did some reading before crashing for the night…

this morning, i woke up, did my usual morning run and eat routine and then came home to do some writing and unit planning…then i headed down to montparnasse to meet scott who who had done some research on a really good crepe joint…we found and it and it did not disappoint…behold…

vegetarian crepte

vegetarian crepe

i was amazed at how filling the thing was…we hopped on the 12 and headed down to concorde to visit l’orangerie…this is, hands down, my favorite museum in paris…i love it because it is small in scope with only two floors and a few rooms to explore…but everything there is always compelling…the basement floors rotate their exhibitions every so often and while i liked what was on exhibit on my last visit better, it was still an excellent collection…

more importantly, the two main rooms contain eight of monet’s water lillies paintings…each one is enormous and takes up en entire wall of a room…these are some of my favorite paintings in the world because they instill a real sense of calm when you look at them…they also shift and change moods as the light starts to change from the glass ceiling and the layers and colors are really intricate…demanding a lot of patience with a ton of nuances…i also find that it has a very calming effect on people who are looking and it’s nice to stroll through each one really slowly and just enjoy all the little details…both the scope and the vision of these murals is really mind blowing…they are so clearly an enormous undertaking…it was just as amazing a second time…

paris’ weather has been extremely manageable since i arrived…but today, it is very. very hot…i needed a break from the sun after the museum so i headed back to take a quick shower, pen this post and think about what to make for dinner…

ooxx aa

 

high speed service trays…

if you’d like to know where all the great south indian food is in paris, here is a handy little map…the walking directions features on hopstop/google apps are super convenient…although, i find that that the streets in paris are such a wonderful mess that i end up getting slightly lost no matter what…

my walk to khrisna bhavan

my walk to khrisna bhavan

after lunch, i wound up back at the apartment for a couple of hours and demoed a new song on my iphone…which has become really useful for the purposes of putting ideas down quickly…especially because i tend to forget them fairly quickly…

i took a quick shower and then took the metro to the Sentier stop to meet a new friend that i’d met through some online travel community…she was an indian american (from minnesota) who’d been living in paris for the last eight years…she’d recently built a new online fashion business here that is apparently doing quite well…we chatted a lot about traveling as we’d both done plenty of it…as well as falling into an interesting diaspora of being indian american immigrants…we grabbed dinner and a few drinks and had pretty conversation for a few hours…though it definitely got a little dicey when she told me she thought standardized tests were a good idea…but it’s always good to have to think about another side of the argument…i suppose…

i’m very grateful to have had parents that raised me in an indian household – with a lot of traditional elements…but always allowed me to enjoy the benefits of living the united states…especially when it must have been hard or awkward or at times just frightening for them…(you know, like when i was listening to modest mouse really loudly when i was 15 or was having punk/indie rock shows in our basement)…

i can not imagine the courage it must take to uproot yourself, leave your family behind and hop on a plane to another country, thousands of miles away with your two young children…i spoke to my amma on the phone at length the other night when i was still jet-lagged and unable to sleep…she articulated how happy she was that my sister and i have the freedom and resources to travel and explore the world on our terms…

on that note, i am about to head down to maison europeene de la photographie as it’s free on wednesday evenings…scott’s going to meet me there and i will hopefully scarf down another falafel sandwich while i’m there..

ooxx aa

 

 

you will be free…

i had a very light day yesterday – mostly recovering from everything ian gave me and scott to drink from the night before…after waking up late and forcing myself to go for a run, elsa, the young lady i’m renting my apartment from gave me a little tour of the neighborhood…this was extremely helpful because almost everything she showed me was literally under my nose – but i hadn’t noticed any of it on my own…now i know where to get top quality produce, booze and baked goods all within a five minute walk of my front door…this will no doubt make the next four and a half weeks much easier…

scott invited me out to a pub trivia night organized by the couchsurfing folks here, but i passed because i just wanted to make sure i went to bed at a reasonable hour…i also don’t think my stomach could have handled even being around another alcoholic beverage…we have tentative plans to check out versailles on thursday and i’m hoping to check out the free night at paris museum of photography on wednesday…

i managed to get a full night’s rest and woke up early this morning to go for a run and grab a quick breakfast…i came back home and finished writing a tune i’d been working on the last couple of days…then, i turned my attention to my stomach’s request for some south indian food…my good friend, neepa, lives in brussels and has spent a lot of time in paris…she turned me onto an area in the 10th that is home to a large number of sri lankan and south indian immigrants…i did a little digging and found that it was only a 10 minute walk from my apartment…after some research on the food situation down there, i settled on checking out khrisna bhavan

view from the street...

view from the street…

my first paris dosa...(won't be my last)...

my first paris dosa…(won’t be my last)…

khrisna bhavan, nailed it – the dosas was perfectly crisp…crispy enough on the edges but not completely flaky and soft on the inside…the softness is important to soak up all the delicious sambar and chutney…both of which were excellent here…

over the years i’ve become extremely picky about my dosas…this is obviously because my amma makes the best dosa, sambar and chutney on the planet (okay, she says my periamma’s (aunt’s) are better, but still)…that being said, the key to a good dosa is usually not the dosa itself but the sambar and chutney that come with it…usually restaurants handle the coconut chutney reasonably well – it’s relatively hard to mess up…but man oh man, is sambar usually a disaster…when done correctly it’s a beautiful thick, spicy lentil sauce with a key complimentary vegetable (okra and moringa are the best)…but restaurants usually turn this into a watery, tasteless mess that manages to look the right color without any of the taste…

i can say after a thorough exploration of the dosa scene in nyc that the only place to get really amazing dosa is from thiru jumar – the sri lankan dude who runs his dosa cart in washington square park right by nyu…my amma and appa fully endorse his dosas as well…now, that’s, a compliment…

there are supposedly a number of other restaurants in this neighborhood in paris near khrisna bhavan – so i plan to try many of them before i leave…a 5 euro dosa is an extremely filling (and delicious) meal with a price that’s hard to beat in what is, definitely, a very expensive city…

i took a long walk back to my apartment while my stomach was digesting the delicious dosa…i remembered that i asked ian the other night if he was married…he told me he was 38 and married with no kids to the only person that could deal with him…then said, “listen, if you can put up with 90 percent of her bullshit and she can put up with 90% of yours. that’s love. that’s it.” … sounds about right…

ooxx aa

the boat dreams from the hill…

the title of this post is taken from the jawbreaker song of the same name…it is as incredible now as it was ten years ago when i first listened to it…it is also the best song ever written from a boat’s point of view…

i met scott at the coq and bull pub a little after five pm and we got well acquainted very quickly…there is something about meeting people while traveling that significantly diminishes the normal boundaries that exist when meeting new folks…i am not entirely sure the reason for this, but i think it’s a mixture of generally being more willing to (or having to) take risks when you are out of your comfort zone…there also seems to be a universal understanding among travelers that we can trust each other…so far it’s served me very well over the years and i can’t count the number of life-long friends i’ve made over the years just wandering around the globe…

scott’s an english teacher in suburban new jersey and we shared some good stories about our teaching experiences over a few drinks…a friend of a friend of his, jason, was the bartender there and there’s nothing better than having a bartender on your side…he was pleasant, friendly and gave us a lot of interesting tips and ideas on local places to visit…he even went out of his way to make a list of vegetarian restaurants for me that i should check-out…simple kindness is grossly undervalued…jason was also irish, which means he insisted that we polish off every beer with this…

IMG_1358

if you know me at all, you know i never turn down a good whiskey…we threw down a few more drinks and between the three of us shared a lot of traveling stories…jason had a lot of questions about the quality of life in the states as it pertains to work/life balance…he was pretty disturbed by how much people work in america and how little time people have for things like family, friends etc…you know, things that matter…in that moment, i became immediately aware of great it is to have the career i have and the freedom to do the kinds of things i really want to…lots of blessings…

after jason’s shift ended, his buddy ian (a north englander as he told us) came in to fill in for him behind the bar…we introduced ourselves and while he had no problem saying my name, ian insisted on affectionately referring to me as “dev”, which i found charming and funny…i’m sure someone else might have found it offensive, but ian didn’t seem like the type of guy who would have given a fuck anyway…i appreciated that…he gave us all another shot and then we hit the road with jason to a vietnamese joint down the block…

the food was good, maybe better than good…it was hard to judge fairly at that point in the night (it was approaching midnight) and scott and i both commented on how quickly the night had rolled by…we finished up eating and because the restaurant was a little hole in the wall without a bathroom, we all headed back to use the restroom at the pub…ian was closing up shop, and before we could leave, poured us all another shot…i thought maybe this isn’t a good idea, but i didn’t think ian was taking no for an answer, so we all threw one back…

jason hit the road to head home to his wife and new born (ten months) and scott i headed to the door when ian asked why we were leaving…and followed it up with “i figured i’d close the bar and we’d have a few more”…scott and i looked at each other for a second and i’m pretty sure we both came to the same conclusion…ian’s not the type of guy you meet all that often and  hanging out with him for a while longer is not something we’d soon forget…we guessed right…

in the next three hours, ian made a medley of different drinks for us while telling us some amazing stories about wrestling crocodiles and hanging out with bears in various places…he was very smart character, with a sharp wit…the kind that knows just how to tell a story and just how to make fun of you without making you feel uncomfortable…he invited us to another bar he’s working on tuesday and finally threw us out at 3 am after telling us that samuel beckett (the dude who wrote waiting for godot) was andre the giant’s babysitter/driver…which is actually, completely, fucking true…

oddly enough, the whole paris metro thing i wrote about in my last entry slapped me right in the face since none of the trains were working at the time we left the bar…luckily my apartment was only a couple of kilometers away and i made the walk without incident and without getting lost…

and that’s about as good as a sunday ever gets…

ooxx aa

we’re invisible and we’re bulletproof…

yesterday, i woke up early and found some green space in a park nearby to do some reading and writing while snacking on a baguette with some strawberry jelly…afterwards, i decided to go hunt for some falafal as i’d developed a craving the day prior…on my last paris visit, i was living near the marais and had a pretty delicious falafel sandwich from l’as du fallafel, which seems to get a ton of press and also proudly boasts that it’s highly recommended by lenny kravitz

this time, i decided to venture across the street to mi-va-mi (l’as was closed, anyway, and i wanted to try something new)…i was rewarded after a short wait in line with this…

IMG_1355

it tasted as wonderful as it looked and while good falafel is certainly not hard to come by in nyc – this did have a unique charm…most notably, the use of a spicy orange sauce which, for my tamilian folks, will taste just like your amma’s onion chutney…a compliment indeed…i sat down on the street (literally) with a few other folks who were also consuming their own sandwiches and took my time dissecting this beast of a sandwich…in addition to the sauce, the huge chunks of roasted eggplant spread throughout were like little golden nuggets meant for the treasure chest of my tongue…i’m usually not a fan of eating these things with a fork – but it was absolutely necessary to avoid making a mess all over the streets…

afterwards i decided to take a walk down the seine since i was already nearby…i knew i would at least partially regret this because, while the view was nice and there was certainly a lot going on, the crowds on a saturday afternoon were just too much for my anti-social-self to be able to handle…i lasted about a half an hour before wandering back towards the metro and hoping on the 4 back to my apartment in montmartre…

i’ve always been impressed with the paris subway system…don’t get me wrong, i’m more than satisfied with what nyc provides in the way of public transport…but in the many times i’ve taken the subway here on my visits, i’ve never waited more than 6 minutes for a train…ever…and the fact that every station tells when the next (two) trains are coming is greatly appreciated…i suppose that’s the benefit of not running the trains 24/7 a la new york…you can handle maintenance easier and keep your daily schedules very regulated…

these days, i rarely get into a subway after midnight, so i’d be happy if nyc opted for a more paris-like schedule (assuming the efficiency during the day would improve as well)…but i’ve also had many international visitors who have stayed with me nyc who rave about how they wish their cities had a 24/7 metro option…tough call…

after a quick run this morning up to sacre-couer and back (the uphill definitely kicked my ass), i grabbed another breakfast quiche and spent some time working on lesson plans for the upcoming year…changing schools, i’m finding myself more nervous than i’ve been in the last 4 years about generally being prepared, so i’m starting early…very excited about working on a 7th grade curriculum again as i think the content offers a ton of options for interesting explorations…

i’ve been writing, slowly, more songs on the ukelele i managed to stuff into my bag on the airplane…it’s been a while since i’ve sat down to write so deliberately and while this exercise has been historically hit or miss, i felt like i needed some structure just to get back into the flow…in between some bouts of writer’s block, i started working on a cover of  possum dixon’s “invisible” …

i’d probably not be playing music at all if chris hadn’t had passed this record on to me when we were teenagers…little things…

i’m going to spend the next couple of hours writing before meeting a couchsurfing friend for a drink in the evening…the couchsurfing website has come a long way in the last 8 years that i’ve used it…it also serves as a pretty amazing example of some of the best that humanity has to offer…lots of great folks to meet…

looking forward to the craze of the weekend to die down and i hope to explore a few museums tomorrow sans crowds…

ooxx aa

public appearance is everything…

my first full day in paris also happened to be my birthday – the second one i’ve spent in paris while traveling solo…i got started a little later than i’d hoped as i was still trying to kick the jet-lag (taking longer than i hoped as i’m still not quite there) but i managed to roll out of bed in time to head down to coquelicot (a highly recommended bakery in montmartre, where i’m staying) for a vegetarian quiche and a chocolate croissant…i took the pair to the top of sacre couer and while quiche has been historically hit or miss for my taste buds, this one was epic in its deliciousness…i then scarfed down the chocolate croissant which was exactly as wonderful as i’d hoped, but my thirty-year-old stomach immediately told me, “if you do this everyday, i’ll kill you.” – this was sad because i was hoping to eat a croissant a day while i’m here…

last week my mother insisted that i find a fountain to throw some change into on my birthday and, of course, i obliged…she did however insist that this year she was going to make my wish for me…so i found the fountain in sacre couer and tossed a few coins into it over my shoulder and will now hope for the best…my mom’s a pretty good wisher and i’m fairly certain i know what she’s asking for…

the weather in paris is hot, but very manageable, especially compared to the oven of nyc that i’ve gotten used to…after wandering around the streets of montmartre for a few hours – people watching, mostly – i headed down to La Glazart – a neat little music venue in between the 18th + 19th arrondissement that’s essentially a homemade beach with a bar and a stage…it was quaint and very chill and i checked out a couple of bands – little trouble kids  and venera 4 – both were good… the former a very fun indie rock duo that at times reminded me of the white stripes, architecture in helsinki and mates of state and the latter a dense, shoe-gazing pop mess a la ride, my bloody valentine and the like…both were way more than competent and little trouble kids were really fun live…

today, i managed to get up a bit earlier, went for a run in the neighborhood and then went out to hunt for some falafel (more on that later)…right now, i’m relaxing with the windows open and about to pick up my uke to do some writing…pretty great way to kick off year thirty…

ooxx aa