Monday, July 22, 2013

Paris and "To Blog or Not to Blog"

I haven't written a blog post in ages. Well, that's not entirely true. I have written the same blog post over and over in my head. It's the one about how ridiculous this whole weight thing is. It's the one about the fact that some of us are heavier than others, but that quite possibly living in the modern world, any number of food additives (in particular hormones) that weren't in the food chain until fairly recently and most importantly dieting, have made many of us with a naturally chunky build into much larger versions of ourselves than our heredity had ever meant us to be.

That's the short and sweet version of my recurring blog post.

In the meantime, my life has gone on and surprised me more than I ever could have imagined.

I'm writing this post at the very end of an eight-day trip to Paris where I took a week-long course offered by my professional association on French language and culture. The course was, to say the least, fantastic. From classes on current language in the press and on the street, to an amazing cooking class followed by eating the delicious supper we'd made, to a guided walk around an area I never would have visited otherwise (La Défense), to attending an amazingly energetic performance of Beaumarchais's "The Marriage of Figaro" (yes, the opera is based on an 18th century French play) to an explanation of how the French trade union system works (believe me, it's complicated and very different from what we have in North America), plus many, many other topics and discussions, I had one of the best weeks of my life.

Contrary to previous visits, I found Parisians to be quite pleasant and certainly not the supercilious snobs I had met in the past. Is this due to the economic crisis? Do Parisians feel they now have to--how can I say this politely?--suck up to the tourists so they can earn their living? I'm not quite sure. All I can say is that it was an "agréable surprise". Incredibly agréable.

The food in Paris is expensive but fantastic. What surprised me most, though, was the portions. They were gigantic. I really can't remember dishes being so big the last time I was here, over twenty years ago. Most of the time, I was often full long before the plate was finished and left a lot of food uneaten. It was really interesting and very bizarre. Have I lost any weight? Knowing my body as I do, I doubt it. Despite my dodgy hip and knee, I walked a great deal, but that seems to make little difference to my weight. Anyway, we'll see when I get home.

I'm really going to miss Paris. I've often said, with a nudge and a wink, that I was French in a past life. Definitely, I am drawn to France and to Paris in particular. If I only had one more trip left to do in my life, I would come back to Paris. When I emerged from the métro station last week after taking the train into Paris from the airport, I practically cried at how beautiful this city is. I will probably not cry as I leave today, but there will be a certain heaviness in my heart. I'm desperately hoping to come back next year.


  1. I am so jealous!

    Thank you for sharing the surprises. I would have never guessed about the portions, based on how we have downright mythologized the presumably rich but petite French diet. Hmmm.

  2. Glad to see a new post from you - ah, Paris! We will have to visit one day... (& great points in 1st paragraph)

  3. Parisians are nice? Could it be the time of year or just happenstance how encounters presented themselves?

    My parents went to France in 1984 and 1985, in both cases, they thought the Parisians were very welcoming and kind? I always figured that attitudes reflect...

  4. Then I came across this great analogy which I thought you would appreciate: "Why Obesity Should Not be Classified as a Disease"

  5. I just came over from Ellen's blog. I think I might love France too. Is it all France, or just Paris? I've always felt I should speak French, but have never committed the time to learn.
    I wonder if the bigger portions are part of accommodating the tourists? Doesn't seem like a good thing.
    It's wonderful that you went. I look forward to reading more here.

  6. Dearest NewMe, it struck me while reading this wonderful post about your experiences in (and of) Paris, that I would simply HAVE to hire you as my interpreter and guide if I am ever fortunate enough to make the journey---and if I have any hope to experience a pleasurable time in a city known to be populated by people who are unhappy with, and notoriously unfriendly towards, those of us who are the unlucky people fated to be born and (mostly) raised in the (often rightfully) scorned U.S.A.

    Okay. Now, please, indulge me. Please envision two very different paintings.

    First, try to imagine a painting of me (hopefulandfree) accompanied and aided by the endless advantages---as a innocent yet eager explorer and adventurer in Paris---which could be provided by your guidance and wisdom of the "Art of Appearing to Hail From Almost Anywhere Except the U.S."---and of course ameliorated by your seductively appealing French language skills (seriously NOT joking or exaggerating, btw) ---and...then (oh horror of horrors, honestly), attempt to imagine a picture of me as I tragically try to explore (and to enjoy!) Paris alone...bereft of (sans!) your unique skills, wisdom and artistry.

    OMG. The second portrait is infinitely more disturbing than "The Scream" !!!!

    Ahem. In short, you would make an invaluable guide and teacher and entertaining companion in Paris for a wide variety of Canadians and (North) Americans who live South of Canada, etc. :)

    I have no doubt that you could get PAID handsomely (money and adoration and gratitude) to be a unique (rare and highly valued) type of travel-guru...for dumb-ass tourists like me (sad but true) and for more sophisticated folks---all who would otherwise be prone to suffer, whine, and regret their vacations in France---while they would simultaneously confirm virtually all of the worst expectations and views that Parisians hold towards U.S. unfortunates.

    Now. You might get a chuckle or two from this comment. HOWEVER, I am SPARINGLY placing my tongue in cheek, and am mostly simply stating the unfortunate reality vs. the happy possibility.

    Of course, alas, taking a dip into to Paris (under conditions just described) could risk ruining much of the fun and splendor and joy-filled adventure for you. IOW, it might not be worth any amount of payment, even when admired as a beloved guru.

    But. Oh. How. I. Can. Fantasize. That. It. Be. Just. So.

    Hugs to you---and many thanks for painting such a breath-taking picture (for your blog readers) of your Paris adventures! :)