Thursday, July 26, 2007

Scottish single malts can be so "peaty"

Really, I don't know what brought this on. Blogging again I mean. In all probability, this will be a shortlived pursuit. But I digress...

I am now living in San Francisco. I start grad school in about one month. I still really, really miss France, and Paris especially. Not a day passes without a wistful stare into space while my mind gleefully replays images of waking up in Paris, with weeks to spare and no responsibilities. I of course work in a french bistro in the Noe Valley neighborhood of the city, which is a bit like SLO, if SLO had decreed that nothing but Victorian houses and gay men with small dogs were within the city planning's grand, uh, plan. My bosses are Parisian, and the head chef has only one hand. I pay way too much for a room in a nice house in a forgettable neighborhood in the "outer mission," also known as the excelsior. There is a man raising roosters in a house several doors down from me, and I can only assume they are cockfighting birds.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007


This is just to see if anyone is still out there.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Ms Dunst was not at the palace

Versailles. Is really really big. The palace is anyway. The town reminds me of Santa Barbara. About the same level of affluence, roughly the same size, within shouting distance of a huge city, trying to remain autonomous from its neighbor and failing. After a day leisurely biking around the grounds of the palace I went home to thoroughly research exactly what happened to Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI during the French Revolution. And by thoroughly research I mean that I tried to rent Sofia Coppola's Marie Antoinette from the neighborhood video store (sidenote: It is surprisingly easy to rent movies in Paris as a foreigner. Considering how mind-shatteringly hard it is to do just about everything else, movie rentals go rather smoothly). It was checked out. So, for the first time since I bought this computer I used the included World Book Encyclopedia. Fascinating.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Seven Euros for last Sunday's New York Times? Oh absolutely.

I never realized how truly bizarre it apparently is that in Morro Bay, a town of 10,000 people, out in the middle of nowhere, you can go to the grocery store at midnight if you want to. Yet in Paris, the capital of Europe, home to 10 million people, if you are out of tomato paste at 10:15 pm on a Friday night--no tomato sauce for you my friend. ALL the stores are closed.
Ummm, I am starting to really be sick of the French. Or maybe just the Parisians. The stereotypes are really seeming true. The arrogance? Oh shit yes. Things not really working? Absolutely. All kinds of places are just randomly closed, nothing has a website, they close all the big parks at about 6pm even though it doesn't get dark until 7, and don't get me started on the coffee. I was actually overjoyed today to find out that Starbucks, yes that's right, Starbucks, actually makes real coffee. Yes, it is 2.40 Euros for a small, but it is at least 12 oz. of actual coffee. Why is everything closed on Sunday? This is the secular capital of the world. Nobody is going to church. It isn't like the 30 hour workweek is so crushing that everyone needs a day off. Here is why I am complaining. It isn't as if the chaos and unpredictability are in any way charming. People look really pissed off around here, and the locals I have met are so cynical that it makes me seem like a clear-eyed pragmatist, and anyone who knows me is aware of how terrifying that is. Don't get me wrong, I'm loving every second of living in Paris, but not in the ways I assumed I would.

Ahhh, the irony of being a left-wing wannabe bohemian living in Paris, complaining that it isn't America.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007


It was very, very windy at the top of the mountain. I could not find that fucking dog anywhere. I was blowing the dog whistle constantly. I was going to have to return down the trail with no dog. How would I explain to the lovely family who were housing Margaret and I that we had lost their dog? I was asking myself all these questions when the damn dog appeared, behind me somehow, ready to head for home. I put her on the leash and triumphantly walked back to our hosts. For dinner: Curried Cauliflower. Pakorda of onion, potato, carrot. Jasmine rice. Falafels. Elderberry Wine. After dinner: Whisky, Guiness, Scottish Folk music. I crawled up to the attic to sleep and to digest three days' bizarre combination of food. Margaret stayed downstairs with the husband and wife and their madolines, harmonicas, and flutes. is a wonderful site that allows you to create a profile, and then to send that profile to a fellow couchsurfing site member in an area that you want to visit. If they like you, you can stay with them, for free, for up to two nights. Margaret and I found the greatest family on the planet, I recommend that you check it out.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Bonnie Prince Housman

In preparation for today's trip to Scotland, and in anticipation of constant rain, Margaret and I stopped in to San Francisco Book Co. Her purchase: You Shall Know Our Velocity. My purchase: Down and Out in London and Paris. There are quite a few English language bookstores in Paris, I'm going to venture a guess here, and it is 15. They range from very clean and very expensive to very grimy and very expensive. The best is Shakespeare and Co. which has been there for about a thousand years. You can actually stay there, they have beds upstairs, for several days provided that you put in a few hours of work. I have considered this as an option. And I will tell you why: I don't know. My main goal is to locate a bookstore that sells English-language newspapers. It seems to me that they must exist. I have tried reading the news online, but it is very difficult to fold up the online edition of the New York Times and walk with it under your arm to a cafe.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007


Probably because it has been raining all morning, and the Village Voice Bookshop does not open until 2 pm, I have re-entered the hzablog. I don't know if this will be a regular thing or not. I would like to think so, but I like to think alot of things. I have realized that writing e-mails to stay in contact requires time, whereas blogging...not so much. Unfortunately, wifi access in Paris is limited to McDonald's, and cafes that want you to pay to use their signal, so I will only be posting from the apartment. But who wants to sit inside when all of Paris is parading around in a permanent fashion show just outside? That is it for today. Tomorrow, maybe more.