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[The subject line is the opening line of Wislawa Szymborska's "Clochard."]

The first day I spent in Paris: 8 May 2009. There were daffodils painted on poles within CDG airport, and I paid I think two euro for a bouquet of muguets from a Latin Quarter street vendor:

my first day in Paris my first day in Paris

I had to bring work along (plus ça change...), and I also had a requiem I'd promised to learn by the time I reached Prague, which would be the following morning. But first there were pork rillettes for breakfast, with gherkins...

my first day in Paris

and there were sights to be seen, including flowers tucked into statues (this one is of Romanian poet Mihai Eminescu)...

my first day in Paris

and pianos being played:

my first day in Paris

Everything's mine but just on loan,
nothing for the memory to hold,
though mine as long as I look.

- Szymborksa, "Travel Elegy"

my first day in Paris

This entry was originally posted at http://zirconium.dreamwidth.org/131601.html.
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Near Strasbourg Cathedral

The subject line is from Fleur Adcock's "Kissing," which begins, "The young are walking on the riverbank," which immediately had me thinking about Paris in May 2009, where there were some lovely strolls along the Seine.

Even so, 2009 was a crucible of a year. When things get stupid intense these days, I sometimes think back to 2009, and then I say, "Ha! 2015, I am armed. I have survived gnarlier years than you!"

Among other things, 2009 was when I hauled two laptops with me around the Czech Republic and France and sucked down litres of soda while whaling through work that couldn't wait:

working some more

working in reims

But I made time for some sightseeing anyway. These shirts in the window of a Strasbourg kiddie clothing shop window reminded me of the tentacle crowd:

in a strasbourg shop window in a strasbourg shop window

And now, like then, there will be doting on doggies:

French train station

This entry was originally posted at http://bronze-ribbons.dreamwidth.org/391856.html. I see comments at DW, IJ, and LJ (when notifications are working, anyway), but not on feeds.
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On the last day of June, I read some pages in Staying Alive: Real Poems for Unreal Times during lunch, and one with the phrase "Remember June's long days" caught my eye.

It's titled "Try to Praise the Mutilated World," and you can read/hear it at http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/247934.

May 2010 - trying to salvage a friend's photos after their drenching by Nashville's biggest flood:
attempting to salvage photos

November 2011 - Paris laundromat door:
Paris laundromat door, 2011

June 2015 - mushrooms in my front yard:
mushrooms in my yard

This entry was originally posted at http://zirconium.dreamwidth.org/109268.html.
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Paris (17 November 2011)

"Roman numerals probably retarded the progress of mathematics for centuries." - Fred C. Hess, Ed.D., CHEMISTRY MADE SIMPLE (Doubleday, 1955)

(On the previous page: "Don't be frightened by numbers. Mathematicians have helped us greatly by giving us numbers that are very easy to work with.")

This entry was originally posted at http://zirconium.dreamwidth.org/76292.html.
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When I arrived in Paris about two years ago, the day coincided with Kehilat Gesher's celebration of Simchat Torah, which is pretty much my favorite religious holiday since it is about beautiful words and lively dancing. Getting to celebrate it in Paris was a highlight -- and I had meant to post about it before now, but I was exhausted when I got back to the flat (as I wrote to my husband before turning in -- around 10 p.m. Paris time -- "I'm so tired I can't even bring myself to open one of the beers my hostess left in the fridge"). On the upside, it has been nice to make a point of gathering back together the various notes I jotted down (as well as sifting through other souvenirs) in between Elul readings and everyday errands.

In my handwritten journal that morning, I recorded that 7:30 a.m. is a beautiful hour to fly into Paris -- the sky different shades of navy blue, the lights of the broad city below. Ninety minutes later, I was still waiting for my luggage, but not as anxiously as the French musicians who'd had to check their guitars. A woman across from me was reading Twilight, and I'd managed to converse in French with a luggage handler and a ticket agent.

The tiny flat I rented for the night was in the Latin Quarter, in the southern half of Paris. The view from the window:
From paris day 1

The synagogue alternates between two locations, one in a suburb and one in the 17th arrondissement. 17e is a ways across town from the Latin Quarter, but still a much easier shlep than getting to/from St.-Germain-en-Laye would have been. I allowed myself enough time to walk to the Métro stop at Place Monge (pink line) and take it to Chatelet, switch to the magenta line to get to Réamur Sebastopol, and change one more time to the green olive line, diréction Pont de Levallois Bécon. The stop for Kehilat Gesher is at Wagram.

From paris day 1

Kehilat Gesher is a French-English congregation. The handouts for the service were in Hebrew (with transliteration provided for some parts), French, and English:

Simchat Torah at Kehilat Gesher

The rabbi wore sneakers and jeans, as did a number of other people there, as well as folks in dressier garb. The other songleader was a young woman who reminded me of my mentor from Borders, looks-wise; she worked around Europe as an opera singer, but hadn't lost the ability to sing sans vibrato. There were frizzy-haired older ladies, and families with young children (including one from Britain), and younger women who danced unselfconsciously and later formed a conga line. A grizzled older man reminded me of the president of a Nashville running club; I noticed someone androgynous in a blazer, and someone else in crocheted gloves.

Some people carried the scrolls readily, and others visibly balked when asked to take a turn. They were handed to me a half-dozen times and the singing (all a cappella) was lively enough that I could truly kick up my heels without feeling out of line. During the faster (and at times near-frenetic) numbers, the rabbi danced arm-in-arm with the congregants -- which reminded me of contradancing, except that it didn't matter where one ended up.

Simchat Torah songsheet

It was the smallest space I'd ever celebrated Simchat Torah in, and at the same time, the most festive in feel once it got going (even compared to the one in Nashville where a man near me was sharing swigs from a flask). The Torahs in circulation included one that was 30 years old and one that was 70 years old, and at one point an arch was formed for the children to wriggle through. Since nothing had been rehearsed, the energy level in the room surged and dipped depending on how familiar the group was with any given song ("Frère Jacques" in Hebrew was a new one for me; classics such as "Hava nagila," "Hineh ma tov," and "Siman tov ou mazal tov" brought out the liveliest, lustiest renditions; there were melodies familiar to me from services elsewhere -- and then there was the Shema, where the notes went in an unfamiliar-to-me direction).

closeup of the siddur

As it turned out, though, the most magical stretch of the evening to me didn't involve voice or feet at all: there was a point where instead of singing -- in large part, I think, because many of us were out of breath by then -- the songleader and some other congregants started clapping in complementary patterns. That is, she started varying her rhythms and others did likewise, but without stopping, so you had maybe twenty people (including me) all clapping rapidly and confidently in a spontaneous, wordless, percussive chorus of hands that became its own song.
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[An aside to Mary: I enjoy the checklists.]

We want to do, to make, to shape, to give form, to give life, to pass it on, for the life of others and for the whole world. We want to love and be loved, to praise and give thanks for the gift of life, of light, of love. The human quest is a constant struggle for balance, for integration. For the monk, this is done in the milking of cows. In that simple activity, God is near. In gathering eggs, in weighing fruitcakes, in putting just the right measure of sugar in jelly, in baking bread, in wrapping cheese, God is to be found. Working and praying spring from one and the same source: the human heart. There are never enough hours in a day to get all the work done that is ours to do. And there are not enough lifetimes to thank God for the one and only life we have to live.

-- Michael Downey, Trappist: Living in the Land of Desire [emphasis mine]

This entry was originally posted at http://zirconium.dreamwidth.org/54769.html.
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Porte Dorée Sunday market
Paris, November 2011

This entry was originally posted at http://zirconium.dreamwidth.org/51832.html.
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From paris day 1

Latin Quarter flat, October 2011. Note how the stove, shower, and toilet are adjacent to one another. The price was right for one day and night, though -- I set my stuff down, checked messages, napped, and later headed across the city to Kehilat Gesher to celebrate Simchat Torah.

more pictures and notes under the cut )

As I waited for various trains, I saw a series of posters campaigning against violence: "School violence, extortion, assault, harassment ... too many young people are victims of violence in their schools, in public transport, in their neighborhood."

From paris day 1

This entry was originally posted at http://zirconium.dreamwidth.org/51548.html.
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* Both Kohli and Dolgo lost points when their shots (unintentionally) hit the roof (i.e., lobs or shanks that arced a shade too high). The chair umpire notes the point by calling "touch" as soon as contact with made. (This is the first tournament I've attended where I've heard this type of call made -- someone on Center Court on Monday also got that call [might have been Kohli again, actually] when their moonball smacked the four-sided tv. In Memphis the ceilings were all high enough that if players hit them they were doing it on purpose [i.e., James Blake and his buddies during practice].)

* Chair umpire was Lars Graff. He was in a friendly mood -- chatting at length with Mo (who'd chaired the previous match; later learned they're both from Sweden), giving a thumbs-up to the camera when it closed in on him, and waving to (I think) various linespeople during the 5-2 changeover.

* Dolgo definitely had several small groups of fans cheering for him, including a very intense young woman to my right who frequently uttered "Go, Alex!" and "Yes!" and the like. That said, like many of the fans I've observed here, she also applauded Kohli's winners as well. Crowd was generally pretty quiet -- just random calls and flurries of applause here and there -- until the second set tiebreak. (Re-entering Center Court right when Djokovic won his match vs. Dodig was like getting hit with a wall of noise.) Mid-match, someone tries to start the rhythmic support clap (I think for Kohli), and it fails to get enough people joining in; it's only on match point in the tiebreak that it takes hold.

* Not a good day for Kohli -- he seemed to be having trouble both with reading D's serve and with overhitting in general.

* Dolgo's droppers are amazing. There's like no bounce to them at all -- they die on the floor as soon as they hit. This may be true of more top players than I'd noticed previously -- saw some other such droppers on Centre Court later in the evening -- but it's so very cool seeing it three rows from courtside. (The advantage of giving up on the Murray-Chardy match three games in was that I got to Court 1 in plenty of time to grab one of the prime seats opposite the chair.)

* Dolgo being Dolgo, he got too cute with a volley while Kohli was serving to stay in the match -- it goes wild, it's 5-all, and a minute later he's serving to stay in the set, even though he was the player in better form through most of the thing. Kohli leads for most of the tiebreak but then DFs on set point.

* Dolgo and Ferru play on Court 1 this afternoon, probably around 1 pm.

* Snapshots
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11:00 am: Having learned my lesson from the day before, I stash cheese and water in my backpack and pick up a baguette and a carton of raspberries on my way to the Métro station. (I also let myself be distracted by other things, including the offerings of oysters, olives, candied orange peels, and other goodies at the Porte Dorée street market; the dance team practicing their routine on the rim of a low park wall and the man they boogie around; and the skateboard kids working on their moves in their cavern nearby.)

11:50 am: After paying my 10 EUR (smiling repeatedly at the usher who keeps trying to direct me to the window where no one is sitting), I head into Court 2, where Kunitsyn and Stakhovsky are about to go into a tiebreak. Sparse crowd (Young v. Nieminen’s on Court 1). Stak easily takes the tiebreak; Kunitsyn overhitting a fair bit. The umpire (might be Lars Graff -- he looks stockier than the last time I saw him) calls out a woman in French when she doesn’t silence her ringing cell phone quickly enough. There’s also a kid steadily babbling -- not loud enough to be a nuisance, but noticeable. Stak periodically fistpumping and grunting “Davai”s to himself when he hits winners, which is not often enough, since it’s soon 3-1 Kunitsyn in the second set. Time for Court 1…

12:28 pm: I get in just as Donald Young finishes signing autographs after his win over Nieminen. Crowd greets both Kohlschreiber and Clement warmly. I consider myself neutral at the start of the match but soon start hoping Clement wins this, because I’m sitting two seats away from the one Kohli fan (a German teenager) very conspicuously applauding Clement errors (enough that a French mother and her two children two rows ahead eventually turn around in unison to glare at him in disapproval; to be fair, there are also French fans applauding Kohli errors, but there’s something about this kid that makes me want to punch him). Kohli starts out smiley but his good mood disappears after several close calls don’t go his way. Clement playing sans goggles again; it’s not helping his serving much (two doublefaults in one game) and the crowd starts the rhythmic-clapping-as-encouragement routine.
It seems to be up to individual umpires if and when they use English: the introductions are entirely in French, as are instructions to the crowd (such as “sit down quickly”), and some provide the scores only in French, but others say “Time” instead of “Reprise,” and “Ready, Play” only in English.

2:35 pm: The flat TV between the courts is showing Bali. I spot Giraldo’s coach in the group of people waiting to get into Court 2, so it shouldn’t surprise me when I get inside and find Kunitsyn and Stakhovsky still at it. It’s 76 67 52 and Kunitsyn is serving to stay in the match. (There’s three lets in a row, and balls keep landing outside the court, so I really shouldn’t be surprised at all.) It takes Stak another ten minutes to close it out, and there’s an “at last!” tone in the usher’s voice as he reports into his walkie-talkie that the match is over.

Paire-Giraldo: friendly coin toss. After the umpire calls “time,” Giraldo continues to get ready at his own pace: mixing an energy drink, applying chapstick, blowing his nose, and then finally jogging onto the court. There’s lots of kids here today -- a grandpa next to me tries to narrate the game to his girl, who would rather check out the pictures on her Hello Kitty cellphone; they both giggle when the ballkids do their changeover routine, though . Giraldo’s coach keeps moving around the stands behind the umpire’s chair. Paire starts lecturing himself early on -- he shows some decent shot selection/variety but doesn’t have the chops to execute them reliably -- and then jawing at the umpire, both hands up in the air. After one point, he whacks the wall with his racquet; after another point, he stops himself from hitting the wall and stomps hard on a chair instead. I’m not in the mood to watch a full meltdown (he’s down 2-5) so it’s time to return to Court 1.

2:38 pm: Mahut and Kubot enter at the same time, to loud cheers. It’s a restless crowd -- much chatting and kids running about, even during points; during the second set, the chair finally says, “S’il vous plaît, les enfants, s’il vous plaît.” Kubot’s wearing elastics under both knees. His net play is comically bad and I don’t think he starts winning points on Mahut’s serve until 4-3 in the second set (Mahut breadsticks him in the first). Crowd cheers winners for both guys; teenage boys bellow “Allez Nico” when he’s about to go on serve. The chair overrules a couple of calls, and Kubot and Mahut each dispute some of them in turn, both adopting hands-on-hips stances as they argue with him. There’s a nice round of applause for Kubot as he leaves and a roar of approval for Mahut.

4 pm: I stay in my seat in Court 1, just to wait out the crowd (and figure out my walk back to the hotel) -- but look, there’s a female umpire prepping her chair, and new linepeople marching in, and two players who enter, leave, and then return. They’re Querrey and Seppi, whose match got moved to Court 1 because Paire-Giraldo ended up going 3. There’s 100 people in the room, max. I recognize Querrey’s team, who sit down one section over.

It’s battle of the baseball caps. Querrey starts off with three easy points, but then double-faults and the game veers into multiple deuces. One of his serves lands like two feet wide of the service box. I head out after the next changeover and 100 or so people surge back in.

And now my laundry is done and it’s time to head to the main show!

final results of qualifying rounds

[notes for day 1 currently appear as posts #12-17 in TAT's Paris Masters thread. I'll copy them to this journal when time and inclination coincide]


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Peg Duthie

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