A Short Stop in Paris: Part 4 of 4

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Under the cushioned bench seat of that folds into my bed every night, is a box where things I don’t use very often are stored. I sorted through a pile of handy hardware type items that were in the van when I bought it and found the spool of blue twine I was looking for.

It wasn’t long before I had driver B’s bumper secured and the slack cut with the new Swiss-Army knife I had received as a gift from one of the hospitable couples I met in Switzerland, Barbara and Randy. Driver B shook my hand and thanked me enthusiastically.

“Maitenant on va a boir quelque chose dans ce restaurant la?” he said

Desiree, laughing and smiling, looked over at me.

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A Short Stop in Paris: Part 3 of 4

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The woman was not about to give up. She circled around the front of the car, attempting to avoid view of the man, and then opened the driver side door. In a lady-like fashion, she then sat her self down and shut the door behind her. Pulling off the break, she motioned to us again for help. The man spotted her then and rushed over. His cell phone now by his side, he was demanding she get out of the car. Still helpless to move it on her own, she complied. They argued a bit and finally I could see the man agreed to push the car himself.

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A Short Stop in Paris: Part 2 of 4

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I was remarkably calm. Probably because I knew the insurance would fix the wagon and my van had no damage. The only thing I dreaded were the hours of reporting and dealing with a likely enraged driver.

“What are they saying?” I asked Desiree.

“I don’t know.” She went over, spoke some in French and came back.

“Are they pissed?” I asked.

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A Short Stop in Paris: Part 1 of 4`

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There is a district north of the old, romantic Paris you know from postcards and movies. Neon lights fronting two story sex-show theatres, pornography shops and dingy bars light up Boulevard de Sebastopol. Subway trains having sprung from the ground line the street inside a corrugated metal tunnel a few meters overheard. A thick mess of people mill below all the bright colors. Some move quickly, spitting out between long lines of parked cars. Men yell to girls passing by and dine together at small sandwich shops.

Further north the street changes to Boulevard de Strasbourg. The metro above disappears. The fluorescent blaze softens to a familiar warm glow of fine dining and cafes. Then standing in the middle of the road, the giant main station, with its big clock and smooth new façade, splits traffic West and East.

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Paragliding

Audio & Video, France, Switzerland 5 Comments »

I spent one week flying at Dune da Pyla, France and made ten high altutide flights in the Swiss Alps. Watch how the gliders rise right off the beach from the strong and steady sea winds. It felt so amazing taking off there, just being lifted off the sand and into the sky. Look how close I come to the fence when taking off in the Alps. I knew I’d make it. :o)

A Strange Goodbye

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Living at Shakespeare & Company was good although not in the ways I’d expected. Having to be there to help open and close at noon and midnight, in addition to a two hour shift at some point between, really broke up the day. We all found it difficult to spend any substantial amount of time reading or writing. I had some conversations with the 93 year old owner, George Whitman, while cleaning his apartment and he was very bold in explaining how writers staying there never had to work when he ran the store (his daughter runs it now). The point was to be hospitable and to foster creativity and learning. However, I did find ways to make the time constructive. I tried getting my shift as early as possible, then would take off to a café where they’d let me sit with one cup of hot chocolate all afternoon. I didn’t get too much reading done, but I’m currently in the middle of four fictional short stories, so all time was not wasted.

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My Autobiography for George Whitman

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The ninety two year old and wildly alive owner of Shakespeare & Company, George Whitman, requires a one page autobiography be written by everyone who stays in his library. Below is the one I wrote. George lives in a small apartment above the store. The place is a clutter of books, newspapers and autobiographies written by the 70,000 plus others who came before me. He was sitting on his bed reading when I walked in and handed this to him.

I’m told I was conceived in a Las Vegas hotel room. My mom’s small, four feet eleven inches, so they had to cut her open to get me out. I was chubby and healthy and grew up on Cheerios and Sesame Street. I asked “What if” about everything. What if the car broke down? What if the sky was green? What if dinosaurs were still alive? My first grade teacher made my mother cry when she told her I was a maniac and would never amount to anything. I had to take home behavior notes for most of my early school years.

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Oooo La Laaa!

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When I got off the plane in Paris I had one thing on my mind; finding a hotel where I could watch David Blaine hold his breath for nine minutes and escape from chains inside a water bubble. I spent about four hours on foot searching hotels near the airport and in the city, which was an hour train ride away. It started raining and my plans sank, but so did David; I couldn’t find a hotel with ABC and he lost consciousness at seven minutes. What a couple of bum magicians.

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Shakespeare & Company

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When I told my uncle the lawyer I’d be traveling and writing, he told me if I wanted to know how to travel and write and how to write about traveling, then I needed to read Hemmingway. So I’ve been reading lots of Hemmingway lately. My uncle’s been my toughest critique growing up. In school my grades were never good enough and I never tried hard enough, but I must have liked it because I’ve always gone back for his advice. He reads more than anyone I know, except for my friend’s wife who reads a book every two days and you can hear it when she talks. I’d like to know that many words, but I do too many things and don’t have the time.

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From the Taj to the Eiffel

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The plan was to go to China next. Last week I booked airfare from Delhi to Hong Kong on Bangladesh Airlines that departed on the eleventh of May. The price was $330 and I put down a $100 deposit. I also bought a bus ticket from McLeod Gange to Delhi for last Friday. I’ve always wanted to see that half of the world and I’d have about two months if I was to make it London by the good weather in early July.

When I went to pick up my tickets on Friday, they weren’t in. Evidently there was some mix up and they wouldn’t be available until the next day. The travel agency offered I pay the balance in Delhi and pick up the tickets at their office there. I’ve heard plenty of stories of proof of deposits in India suddenly becoming invalid, so I insisted in getting my money back. They gave it to me on a handshake. I gave the travel agent a $2.50 tip and told him I’d pick up the tickets in Delhi.

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