PARIS: Joyeux Anniversaire

The brain is an absolutely magnificent organ. I recently took an online class on neurobiology and it really opened my eyes…metaphorically…about all the nonsense that’s going on up there. I’ve never really thought about my brain…hold up…when you think about your brain, it’s really your brain thinking about itself. That one is going to keep me up at night. Anyway, I understand a bit better how it functions and how it can be completely illogical for no apparent reason — as it is with depression or anxiety or seasonal affective disorder. I haven’t gone to a practitioner to see exactly what my particular brand of crazy is, yet, but I’ll be doing that before the winter comes. When depression kicks in, you can’t really tell it to go away. Even in Paris, the most magical city in the world, you can be depressed.

And so, the day before Jessica’s birthday was certainly not the most thrilling day of this lengthy vacation. My body wasn’t in the mood to move and my brain was not in the mood to think at all, but from past experience, I know that doing something will help somewhat with the grey fog that overwhelms my brain…so off we went…into the rain. It just won’t stop raining. I’ve never seen so much rain. It’s rained here more than it’s ever rained in London whilst I’m there and that defiance of meteorological stereotypes really irks me. I prefer the rain to snow, of course, but then again, you can walk in the snow without becoming drenched…you are cold, though. There’s no winner when it comes to precipitation.

We took the RER, which is a variant of the Métro. It has fewer stops, so it’s not always practical, but it’s faster than switching to three different trains to cross the city. Today we were off to find a village and check out a mall. I couldn’t find anything to do indoors, so we prayed for a light drizzle. We got a downpour.

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The Italie 2 Mall was lame as hell, but it was raining, so we poked around for an hour. It wasn’t all that different from a mall back home, they even have Claire’s. We looked at books and clothes and croissant shops that didn’t sell croissants and it was boring. We were, of course, starving to death. I’m constantly in fear that we will get too thin and just drop dead on the spot. When you are so terribly thin, you have to eat a lot, and frequently.

We went upstairs to the restaurant level to try a place called Hippopotamus. It’s a chain in Paris that has long amused us. One look at the menu, though, and we were no longer amused. Who the hell did that hippo think he was charging those exorbitant prices?

In a huff, we dashed through the rain to the Café Jules across the street for sustenance. Jess had a hamburger and I had the strangest looking omelette I’ve seen in some time. We had one of those wonderfully brusque waitresses and had a very nice and leisurely time eating our meals and nibbling on salads and sipping on coffee as we waited for the rain to stop. It never really did, but it slowed down finally.

I wanted to go home, but I decided to seek out the Buttes aux Cailles district since we were already there. A village would be so charming, too, you know? We went the wrong, way, of course, and that got us awfully wet, but we were soon on the right path. I’d read such charming things on the Internet about this area — about how it retained a village atmosphere, how there were quaint little shops and not one of them a chain, how there was a well — well, it was all a bit letdown.

IMG_2026I mean…it kind of looked like a village and on a sunny day, I suppose it might be charming. But, Jessica was unamused and I was unimpressed so we hurried away. After being damp, all we wanted was a nice pastry from McCafé, so we went on a lengthy journey to the Louvre only to find the McCafé was inexplicably being shut down. In great need of apricot macarons, we went to the horrible Champs-Élysées and got our pastries…but it just wasn’t the same.

Sick to death of the rain, we bought umbrellas, and just as we expected, it hasn’t rained once since.

OH, I also started work on my man bun. Be excited:

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The next day was Jessica’s birthday, but we didn’t wake to a very celebratory atmosphere — the Internet was on the fritz. QUELLE HORREUR. Life doesn’t just carry on without an Internet connection, my dear readers, it’s impossible to survive this modern world without access to Google. I envy the people of the past that they weren’t so burdened by information as we are, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world, really I wouldn’t. Strangely, my iPad worked, but feebly. In great sadness, we left the apartment and prayed to sweet Beysus above that it would work upon our return.

We went across town to an American bakery that produces remarkably good cakes and cookies called the Sugarplum Cake Factory. It’s one of Jessica’s favorites and if there’s ever a day to eat cake, well, it’s your birthday. I had a huge cookie and it was excellent. Jessica thoroughly enjoyed her carrot cake and I was proud that she did it in a more refined manner than the last time when she wrote a crude note to the management saying that it was so good that it gave her an orgasm. I don’t think we’re truly related.

IMG_2037The next thing Jessica wanted to do was see animals. I didn’t want to go to the zoo, because it’s overpriced and I’m not fond of zoos. They make me tired and I don’t care to be surrounded by children when I’m not at work.

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We looked exceptionally lovely on our stroll:

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IMG_2042So, we hurried through the lush and lovely Jardin des Plantes to the Grande Galerie de l’Évolution. To my exceptional delight, we were both presented with free tickets. If you’re under 26 years old, you get to go in for FREE! I was so thrilled by this. In England, all the museums are free and that’s a wonderful system. I do understand why most places charge admission, though. (I don’t understand places like the MET in New York that charge a huge sum of money as a suggested donation for entry.)

The museum was beautiful, but I’m not so sure it would have been worth the €7 that the adult admission is.

Beautiful museum. Free if you're under 26!

A post shared by Benjamin Phillips (@bdphillips) on

IMG_2053I’m a strict vegetarian, but I absolutely adore taxidermy.

IMG_2065The museum was full of stuffed creatures from all over the world and it was beautiful, if not a bit creepy. It got my writing brain in motion, though. One of my characters was there with me the entire time.

IMG_2063This gallery was full of extinct animals and it was just tragic.

IMG_2061This camel has seen shit.

We had her birthday dinner at our beloved Iolanda, which everybody else loathes. It was tasty as ever and we had a very nice time. We decided to walk over to the Champs-Élysées, because it’s really not that far away and it was nice to see a different part of town.IMG_2069As we were walking amongst the apartment buildings of the wealthy, we made a new friend:

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As we passed through the Trocadero, we had a lovely view of the Eiffel Tower:

IMG_2096And solved the mystery of where this picture was taken. It’s always bothered me:

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We made it to the Champs-Élysées and discovered where all the tourists had been that day. We’d gone so long without the hoards, but there they all were. Sweet Beysus. Even I, and I’m normally tolerant of anything, was irked.

I needed espresso pods, so I thought it would be a great idea to go to Monoprix. WRONG. I was in the self cheek out lane and they didn’t take cash! HAHAHA. In anger, I put my purchases to the side and marched out of the shop.

The Internet still didn’t work, so we restarted it and then it did. And I think for Jessica and myself, that was the greatest gift of all.

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