Paris Looks Good

photo: boullay bottles

The cocktails were not for me. I had
fake grape juice instead.

The 'Move' In Three Parts

Paris:- Monday, 19. July 1999:- It's summer so Pierre let me sleep until quarter to seven before giving me a ride to the RER station at Saint Remy. Moving-in day is here; symmetrical with moving-out day last Monday.

A week ago, on Monday, 12. July, the movers didn't show up at eight and I managed to potter a couple more boxes together. I put in a couple of magazines at the bottom, then some heavy stuff, and left the carton open to be filled with fluffy stuff, so it wasn't too heavy for the strong-mover people.

Doing this was slow. I should have started 10 days before. The soon-to-be ex-wife already had twenty or thirty boxes of her stuff out on the balcony - so where to put mine?

This question was solved by the movers who showed up at 9:15 and put an elevator up to my window. They were dismayed that my work room was not already boxed and wrapped for them; the first thing they clear away is the drawing table in front of the window. And everything on it. They are movers, after all.

While I was called away to answer a burning question in another room, the movers disappeared my pills, métrophoto: 'les holes' water tank tickets, glass wipes, passports, keys and other vital objects. When I got back, we played the game of 'find the pills' in one of ten cartons. This was not a favorite mover game.

The night before, I managed to pack about ten boxes with things necessary to get Metropole going again. Including all the computer cables, the box looked like full of worms. These necessities filled up four boxes.

The world's biggest gold tee is really a big water jug.

As this dragged on, the day got hotter. As soon as I'd leave the room to discuss - say, whether I'm taking the buffet - no - I'm not hosting any dinners! - I've only got four plates - the movers would pack something which has never been unpacked in 12 years; nay, in 23 years. Stuff that was packed in Hamburg is still in the same bundles and boxes. Time flies.

They also packed ten boxes with stuff I intended to throw away 'one of these days.' The wind blowing through the apartment felt like it was directly from Africa. I didn't actually witness how they got the refrigerator out. I stopped them from emptying the ten drawers of the drawing cabinet into their crummy cardboard boxes - they had to take the drawers as they were - full - and put them back in the cabinet in the truck.

Whenever it was going to end, it had to be in time for us to get to the place to sign the apartment sale papers. Yeah, well, the movers didn't quite make it. My bike was in the truck - I remembered it - but another box from Hamburg stayed in the cave.

At the signing it was like Africa on a hot day. After a bit of waiting and a bit of legal boilerplate and a lot of signing, we were rid of our great thing. The notary - they never carry cheques - said he'd send mine to my bank the next day. Handshakes; cheers one and all and off to destiny.

Gasping and a wheeze into the supermarket cafeteria downstairs and got a pink Orangina drink with that Brazilian speed stuff in it. Exchanged some last minute items. End of a household. Been nice knowin' ya. Ciao.

I was dropped in the RER at Saint-Germain and rode into Châtelet to change there for Saint-Remy. Rush-hour; couldn't get my bags into a no standing-room-left wagon. Waited 20 minutes for the next train; well-positioned to get on it or else. Gasp. Boiling in the underground.

Cadillac Ranch, Boullay-les-Holes

The server-lady Linda Thalman breezily swept into the no-entry of the deserted parking lot of the Saint-Remy station. Just as breezily she swept into a closed café across from the station to get me a pack of Gitanes.

I didn't have to sleep upstairs with the servers after all. They had the air-conditioning to themselves. Dazed, but installed, I ate all of the spaghetti put before photo: view from cadillac ranch me including all the green stuff from the server-lady's green thumb efforts. Does fresh green stuff always have a taste? It was the surprise of the day.

See? If I say it's Cadillac Ranch, then that's what it is. Boullay's prairie.

Bastille Day eve is something I can't recall, except it wasn't as hot and was getting cloudier. I think I might have done some coding. There was an email I took four hours to answer and two days to send. Later, I didn't have the energy to go all the way to Paris; nor to any local fêtes. I did hear fireworks someplace nearby as I fell asleep. Yippee! Whizzz-boom. Snore.

Bastille Day was cool. I mean, it wasn't warm. It wasn't sunny either. Each 14th of July, Cadillac Ranch throws a fête for the server-lady's clients. I saw big Jacques at Concorde on TV with the King of Morocco. I had two trays for serving stuff with, but didn't use them. One was a Cadillac hubcap.

I helped get the 40 kilos of brochettes and chipolatas, after all. And all the baguettes. And went to Saint-Remy to pick up arrivals from the big city. Several times.

It was cool. It was calm. I'd forgotten to get myself any grape juice and drank some multi-fruit drink instead. Nearly everybody else drank red or white stuff and there was some pink too, but not any Orangina with Brazilian goof stuff in it.

It was good thing there was no pool because it was too cool to swim in it. About 21:00; after not swimming in the no pool, my teeth felt odd. I made myself a super sandwich with tasty green stuff, without top-side bread, and when I bit into it, my teeth fell out.

I went into a bathroom and looked in a mirror. Sure enough, my upper bridge wasn't attached to me anymore. I gave the sandwich back. It only had bite marks on the bottom.

The dentist I was lucky enough to find on Thursday in France after Bastille Day was very sad I wasn't staying at Cadillac Ranch long enough to get a proper fix, but did look up a dentist in Paris for me. A druggist had some no-brand hospital reanimation glop and I bought a crate of it to tide me over. Plus I got a lot of yogurt and some fake beer, for pretend-fun.

The Friday I edited Metropole's links page and re-coded it to look snazzy. Which it did on two flavors of Netscape, but that Microsoft thingphoto: metro denfert rochereau apparently does not read standard HTML; displaying it in wide-screen television format, with TV's usual distortions. Mind you, I'm doing this on a PC with a US keyboard - QUERTY instead of AZERTY - so it's only taken me the best part of five hours to make the page beautiful. And then Explorer puts it into orbit.

The sign that says I've finally arrived in Paris.

I gave up, had another half-litre can of glop and cut the grass on a tractor. I'll tell you something about grass-cutting tractors - they don't drive like lift-trucks.

I was trained on lift-trucks at BMW's lift-truck driving school in Munich, and making the shift wasn't easy. I popped one of the server-lady's big pots and severely mangled two trees - forgetting to jump to safety in order to stop the thing. I cut all the grass except for the bit under the ping-pong table.

Sunday was a calm, nice day. I watched wheat growing until I got tired of it after 28 seconds. I had three cans of glop, six yogurts, six pots of liquid cheese and six pots of plastic-tasting caramel stuff, and one fake beer, for pretend-fun.

Ric Moves In To Paradise

On Monday Pierre lets me sleep until quarter to seven before giving me a ride to the RER station at Saint Remy. Moving-in day is here. I am well-rested and fit, if toothless and a little hungry.

I ride the RER in to Denfert-Rochereau, get up to the street up the stairs way and drag my cases the two-three blocks to the new flat. Nobody is around and I've misplaced - the movers packed it up - the door code.

By the time I get back from touring the block, the agent is waving to me from the window. He shows me the keys, the gas water heater, the toilet, the bathroom and sends me down to the cellar to see if I can find my cave. I don't, but he is right; the floor is dirt. I can dig down to the catacombs.

Then I settle down to wait for the movers to arrive. I have high ceilings with good moldings and it is all painted very white. I look at my two street-side windows. Seems odd - people walking past on the sidewalk, at my level. Out in La Village, people walking were rare.

The kitchen window looks out into the neighboring courtyard which is full of well-kept plants and the bedroom window sees my building's own, which is tidy but without much decor except a garage-exit no parking sign.

Around noon I call the movers from a card-phone on Avenue Leclerc. Coming any minute. I look at the white walls some more. I readphoto: my doorway the Herald Tribune. I can't understand it; it's full of news of somewhere else. The book-report guy says the book wasn't too good, which I figure out by reading between the lines.

My brand-new iron and glass front door has a door-code I can now remember.

I go fifty metres up the street and snag a can of Orangina from an Asian deli. I try sitting on the wooden floor instead of the windowsill but it is just as hard even if it is flat. I check out the mirrors and the two no-functionar fireplaces. I count the panes of glass in the interior doors; then the floor boards. The sun shifts further west.

After eight hours, the movers arrive. They can bring in nearly everything through the front windows. Pretty soon my big white empty apartment is full of boxes and dismantled furniture. I hope the neighbors didn't see the state of the sofa. Looks like something I picked up from a sidewalk discard.

When the movers leave I have to climb over boxes to get to the bedroom - to kick the two legs off the bed frame on account of them thoughtlessly not bringing the other two. When I close the shutters for the night and turn off the light in the bedroom it is not just dark, it is black. There isn't much noise outside either.

I order the phone line in the morning and then go see the dentist, who has a shop just up the block. When I get back from getting the bridge I've forgotten, the dentist says it's made of steel. Good stuff. Teeth anchors, not so good. But what's to be done?

While she hatches a plan of dental action I check into the local Social Security office and they take my coverage card; saying it'll take three weeks to change its address on account of some computer hangup. Probably all PCs. Most likely the 1999.7 bug.

In between I find a new glop supplier and unload some boxes. As the place fills up even more, I grasp that I have to assemble the furniture the stuff has to go into - or I'll spread out into the street and courtyard.

But doing this is not simple. I need space to erect the bookshelves. Shift the cartons. Build something. Find the pieces for another. Shift more, again. Now I'm getting mountains of empty cartons. Shift, shift, shift. What is this? Two TV sets! Supposed to be only one. Where's that hard-disk?

On Thursday I have a provisional work-space cleared; the layout guided by the faults of the last one. Need lots of flat areas to have a ton of stuff ready to hand. I put the machinery boxes on it. I wire them up. First try - ignition. That's Macs for you.

Two problems: no monitor and no modem. Plug the monitor in somewhere else and plug the modem into the phone line. Second try - contact. Online, first try. Twenty junk emails, thirty newsletters; the rest from readers, urging courage. Thanks Metropole people!

I finally go ask the agent - just around the corner - how to make the hot water thing work. The shower was colder than usual this morning. I've never seen the joy of cold showers except at beaches where the temperature is never less than 30.

By Friday I'm making a serious dent in the box population and in the furniture erection game. In the afternoon, the dentist pastes the remainder of my bridge back it, minus some missing ends. It's a temporary fix until the ultimate solution - which betterscan: meal ticket be before August. All dental labs close then so their employees can go to Club Med in Tahiti.

For dinner, I go to an Asian deli. There's no question of eating any real bread yet - nor any tough meat. Not that there's any of this around; the local butchers have better window displays than the perfume shops.

Saved for you. My first meal ticket in Paris - four days after arrival.

What a place! Midway between two marchés. Surrounded by Asian delis, French bistros, dozens of cafés and boulangeries and there's a big supermarket open until 22:00. The sales are on too and I've spotted some Italian shirts; two for the price of one Pierre Cardin.

For the first time in my life, on Saturday I get three croissants that are still warm. I've got butter, four pots of good jam. I better get a coffee machine and a toaster.

Paris is looking good.
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