I'm sitting outside of one of the world's most famous museums. My hands are cold. I thought about going in. If you had been here we would have gone in. We would be looking at the art, and you would be telling about the last time you were here, when you were living in Europe studying art. I never studied art, but I studied you and I think that is close. There is a flautist playing for pocket change and I stop to listen.He is very good, but he must be freezing. Is that where all the worlds talent is? Out in the cold, one hungry day away from being a proper beggar.

Proper beggar. That term has new meaning here to me in France. The beggars here walk the trains putting these little cards on the empty seats next to people and then once they have done the whole car the start from the beginning collecting their cards along with whatever coins people have decided to donate.
 Basically this says "I am homeless. I have 4 brothers. Help me to find work and live with my family. If you have a good heart please help me with all that you can. Thank you very much. May God bless you. 1 coin or one meal ticket."

I guess it beats approaching people on the street, there are those that will approach you or that sit on the corners holding a sign but they seem to be mostly foreigners. The French have pride even when they have nothing else. And maybe so do I. Maybe that's why I'm here listening to this flautist who is still playing his flute for a living despite the fact that he can't find anyone to pay him a living to play the flute. A husband and wife kneel in front of the him with their small child listening to his music. They are a beautiful couple, and I wonder how they would describe this experience, and what they are listening to. I would call the music lovely and haunting but everything sounds different when you're alone.

I drop a few euros into his collection and walk out into the sun. The music follows me into the courtyard and washes over the Pyramide du Louvre with the sunlight. The sun is glaring down on the pyramid and the statues and somehow it manages to illuminate everything beautifully without providing any warmth. It's a cruel trick when the sun shines so brightly but can't be felt, sometimes I think I would prefer the darkness.

On days like today, when everything is so beautiful and so cold I can't help but think of you.



Currently watching:
Arrested Development - The Complete Series (Seasons 1, 2, 3)


It's been a week since I wrote last. A very eventful week. I got an apartment. It's small, but not as small as I thought it would be. I have my own room but I share the place with a man named Martin. We don't talk much, as he speaks even less English than I do French, and apparently he doesn't think it's worth the effort to try to communicate. You'd think he would be glad to have someone to share the rent with (it's... expensive) but Martin treats me more like an inconvenience. Sometimes he yells in French and I really have no idea what he is saying or why he is angry but I just get the feeling that he doesn't like me very much. Martin has a girlfriend and they fight often. He has never bothered to introduce me, but I call her Martine... I mean not to her face of course, I guess I really just call her that to myself... and now to you. You and I are the only two people I talk to.

...I guess we're not really talking... but I'm assuming that one day you'll actually be reading this. Well... I keep changing my mind about that.

Anyway, this past week has also been filled with French food, beautiful women, and hours of walking. First the food. I think you would love it. They have plenty of options for a semi-vegetarian or whatever it is you're calling yourself these days. I'm sure you have heard of a Croque Monsieur, well that has ham on it, but a Croque Chevre has goat cheese instead. Trust me, it was amazing. I got one at this place called La Rotonde on rue St. Lazare, not far from the gare (which is what they call their train stations).  I even took a picture of the place because I liked it so much I wanted to remember it.

I haven't quite made it to the point that I'm taking pictures of the food itself. When a friend of mine found out I was coming to Paris, she insisted that I see the photo album of her visit. Half of it was food. Sure, the food is good, but I still think that's weird.

Another of Paris' wonders are the women. They are beautiful here. Not that there aren't beautiful women in America (you know I think you're beautiful), but here it's just... They are just everywhere, all the time, I don't know if there are just more people in Paris or if I see things differently here, or if they really are just more attractive. It seems I fall in love daily... well as far in love as you can be without ever talking to someone... Typically in America a girl would be interesting up until the time they opened their mouth. Here I don't have that problem. They open their mouths and all I hear are pretty sounds that match their pretty faces.

I've decided to discover Paris as she unfolds herself to me. I don't know if that makes any sense to you, but essentially it means that I haven't gone to see any of the sights, I've just been picking a direction and walking. I'm in no rush, I'm sure I'll see it all sooner or later. The thing is that even without all of the famous sites this city is filled with wonders and beauty. I have found an interesting mix of the past and present here. On one hand the city has buildings that have seen the better part of the last millennia and on the other hand it's a totally modern city with all the conveniences that we have come to depend on. I passed some beautiful buildings that had been hollowed out and turned into a beautiful mall. I guess all cities, like all people are evolving. All moving towards the great unknown future and we must all decide which things we will leave behind, and which things we will hold on to...

Maybe some of us let go to soon...
And others, not soon enough...

Or maybe evolution just isn't that simple for any of us.

Yours sincerely,


Currently watching: Moliere

You're not really lost if you don't have a destination.

Do you ever feel like you are lacking direction? I have spent the entire morning trying to figure out how to ride the metro. It has been pretty frustrating. The first problem was getting a ticket. My conversation with the metro attendant went something like this.

Me: Bonjour.

Attendant: Bonjour.


Attendant: (Honestly, I have no idea.)

Me: Je ne comprend pas le Français bien.


Apparently she doesn't understand my French either.

Me: Un.

I held up one finger, communicating more with my hands than with my words.

Me: À Paris.

Attendant: Un Euro Soixante.

Thanks to that little digital screen flashing 1,60, I am now wandering the station trying to figure out which train to get on. Part of the problem is that I'm not really sure where I am going. I just wanted to get out. I haven't seen anything in Paris yet. The other part of the problem is that I have no idea where any of these trains are going. I was able to obtain a map from another metro attendant. That's one successful interaction with a native. Maybe I should feel proud about that, but pride won't give me any idea of where I am or where I am going. I wish I had a map for the map. There are a hundred French names and only a few of them seem to match the names on the train.

I'm starting to think that maybe I should just go back to the hostel. I've been here for literally over an hour walking down different hallways, following different arrows that all seem to point me in a circle. Besides, it took me at nearly as long to get to this station in the first place. I just kind of ended up here after wandering through Paris. And getting back to the hostel... well, I'll worry about that later, first I need to figure out where I am.

You probably think this is funny. You probably would have just jumped on a train an hour ago...

I'm now riding the 7 train towards some place called "Mairie d'Ivry". I'm not really sure what that means, the train pulled up and I just had to get out of that station. The next stop is Opéra. I think I'll get out there.

The station at Opéra is a lot easier to navigate. FYI, in French, sortie means exit... slowly but surely, one word at a time I guess. As I climb the stairs out of the Metro station I turn around to find the Academie Nationale de Musique. It's pretty cool I guess.

It's colder out here than when I first entered the metro station almost two hours ago. The sky is... blank. No color. No sun. No anything. I'd like to see this building on a sunny day... I take another look. I guess it is pretty cool.

I duck in to the nearest shop, a gourmandise. It's brightly colored, warm, and filled with candy. A sharp contrast to the gray Paris outside. I browse for a moment with no real intention of buying anything. But the smell of sweets awakens a hunger that has been suppressed by the stress of being lost. I see a large caramel and take it up to the guy behind the counter, handing it to him with a five euro note.

Me: Un caramel.

He says something that I don't understand and I'm not sure he is even talking to me so I don't respond. I look at the ground and wait for him to hand me the change. I leave the gourmandise and immediately unwrap my caramel. It's gone before I cross the street. I barely had time to taste it. There is no question that I am an American. I count the change in my pocket. Apparently that caramel was four euros twenty. If euros meant anything to me I might be having buyers remorse, but as far as I'm concerned it is play money. The conversion brings it out to somewhere close to six dollars but I try not to think about it. The important thing now is to find somewhere I can exchange this play money for some real food.

Down the street I see just what I need, a little piece of home. The golden arches of a McDonalds shine like a beacon of the familiar.  As I make my way towards the glowing beacon, I notice on the opposite side of the street another American invader, Pizza Hut. I chose the McDonalds because I don't need to cross the street to get there.

It make look like a McDonalds on the outside but it is something very different on the inside. For one there is something called the McCafe where they serve desserts and espressos. I see the employee paint a little garnish on a plate for a customer as he hands him his espresso and pastry. It looks very nice but I need something substantial. As I peruse the meny only thing I recognize is a BigMac. Looking a little further I see something called "chicken shake" and I nearly loose my appetite imagining what that could be. I'm too hungry to be homesick, I just need to order... anything.

I must have taken a wrong turn out of the McDonalds because nearly an hour later I still haven't found the Opéra metro station. It's been dark for sometime now and the night air is getting colder, biting at my nose. I hesitate to cross another street, looking for something, anything that I recognize.  A man approaches me.

Man:Pardon, Ou est le metro?

Me: Je ne sais pas.

Man: (mumbles something)

Me: Je ne parle pas Français. Parlez-Vous Angalis?

Man: Non Anglais, Français et Italiano.

Me: Non Italiano.

He shrugs, then shakes my hand and smiles at me. We are both foreigners, wanderers in a strange land. I hope he finds the metro. I wonder how he got here. I guess it is as they say in France, all roads lead to Paris. Maybe if I could figure out which of these roads brought me here, I could find a way to go home. Whichever road it is I think that you must be at the end of it...

 I turn right for no particular reason and a block later I run into a river. This must be La Seine. On the other side of the river is a beautifully illuminated, ancient looking castle type building. The light reflects beautifully off of the water. I can't help but think how cold that river must be. As I watch a boat move downstream a light catches my eye. It's the Tour Eiffel and it's beautiful. Lights illuminate the whole tower and at it's top large search lights revolve, illuminating the sky. What are they searching for? No maybe that's not it at all. Maybe they are shining out into the night for the searchers. A brilliant beacon for wanderers like me.

To be completely honest, the reason I am here in Paris still eludes me.  But for now, I am beginning to feel that I belong here.

Yours sincerely,

Paris like you've never seen it.

It's my third day in Paris and I am sitting in my room. It's warm in here. Warm and expensive. I need to find an apartment. Right now I'm staying at a Hostel in the Montmarte district. It's... filthy frankly, but I didn't think that would be a problem because I thought I'd be spending most of my time outside. Looking for a job, or an apartment, or just seeing Paris. It's my first time in one of the world's most famous cities and I still haven't seen anything but the inside of this room. Well the inside of this room and the boulangerie down the street. I thought about going back to Le Cafe Zephyr to see if I could meet that waitress but I...

I feel weird about...

Well, let's just say I didn't really come here looking for a girlfriend. Besides, it's cold outside. This hostel is lucky it's so cold out there. The warmth is about the only thing this place has going for it...

The main problem with this hostel is my roommates. The over excited Brazilians. Apparently they live to chatter incessantly in broken English and tell me all about the amazing things they've seen and the amazing places I should go. I told them where they could go but I guess the meaning was lost in the translation.


Something just bit me. I don't think it was a bedbug, though I'm pretty sure this place is crawling with those as evidenced by the hosts of tiny itching welts appearing daily on my arms and legs. But I don't think you can feel bedbug bites. Do cockroaches bite?

...Maybe the Brazilians are the second worst thing about this hostel.

Actually, I'm bumping the Brazilians all the way to third. The worst thing about this hostel is that I'm spending twenty-seven Euros a night to stay in this dive. Then the bugs. Then the Brazilians. And lastly the guy who runs the place. The concierge is an angry old man that apparently hates everything. His English is terrible, his breath is worse, and he kicks me out for three hours every day at two in the afternoon to "clean up the place". Judging by the overall cleanliness of his establishment I'd say that this is French for "go through your things looking for valuables".

It's two now. I could either wait until he kicks me out or I could leave now and escape his breath. Back down to the boulangerie for some baguettes, or maybe I'll go see the Eiffel Tower. It's about time I see something.  Where did I put my Michelin Green Guide?

Concierge (knocking on the door): Bounjour?
 Me: Oui?

Concierge (opening the door): I must clean the room now.

Me: I'll be out in a second, I just need to find something.

Concierge: Now.

Really? ... I guess I can see the Eiffel Tower tomorrow. The concierge gives me a dirty look as I pass him in the doorway. And that smell. Is it their diet? I need to find an apartment... needless to say, I'm having a wonderful time.

...Wish you were here.

Yours sincerely,

Currently Listening:


Why am I here?

It's been a long time since we spoke last. I've been thinking about you  a lot lately. Not much has changed there I guess. I wonder where you are and how you are doing and... well, I wonder  a lot of things. I wonder those same things about myself actually. Where am I? I guess the short answer is that I'm sitting by myself in the corner of Le Cafe Zephyr. Le Cafe Zephyr, a quaint little place on Boulevard Montmartre. I think you would like it. I've been living in Paris for about... four hours. It's been a long four hours. I'm hungry.

A woman approaches me. And a beautiful woman at that. Something isn't right here. I look over my shoulder but there is no one else around. She stands over my table looking down at me.  She's starts talking to me for some reason... I'm guessing she must be the waitress.

Waitress: Du café?

Coffee? I don't drink coffee, it's a religious thing. How do I say that?


OK, there is really no need to say all of that. Just say no thank you.

Me: Non, merci.

That was easy enough.

Waitress: Qu'est-ce que vous voudrait comme boisson?

Me: Ummm.... 

What did she say? I really have no idea, my very limited French comes from two years in middle school and thirty half hour lessons from Pimsluer. And to be honest, I just kind of skimmed those lessons. Just nod and order something to eat, I tell myself, she'll understand.

Me: Deux oeufs s'il vous plaît. Avec pain. Un croissant?

French, Conversational: Learn to Speak and Understand French with Pimsleur Language Programs (Pimsleur Instant Conversation)
Waitress: (she blinks/she stares) J'ai pas compris.

Me: (I blink/I stare) (and then I say nothing)

Waitress: What do you want?

Me: Eggs.

She gives me a weird look then turns and starts walking away. I would like something warm to drink. Winter in Paris might not compare to winter in the high Rockies but it's still cold.

Me: Mais, Je veux... chaud... um hot chocolate?

Waitress: Un chocolat chaud?

Me: Oui. Merci.

 She nods and leaves me in my corner. Why am I here? Short answer is because the Starbucks down the street didn't serve eggs, and the Hardrock Cafe next door doesn't open for another half hour. Was it ethnocentric of me to assume that they would speak English at Starbucks. The waiters speak French at the fancy French restaurants in America. Or is that only on TV. So weird that this waitress speaks english, but they didn't at the starbucks. They probably speak English at Hardrock, I doubt anyone goes there but tourists. Do the French even have a word for hamburger? Maybe I'll go there for lunch. Anyway, I'm rambling. I just wanted to write to say hello and... 

Who am I kidding? This letter is more for me than for anyone else. I'm the only one who will ever read it, and I'm certainly never sending it to you. What am  I doing here? The most romantic city in the world also happens to be the loneliest city in the world when you have no one to share it with. Welcome to The City of Love.

The waitress returns with my hot chocolate and a croissant. She sets them down on the table. Then she bends over my table to tell me something. Look, I'm not a pervert or anything, she just happens to be wearing a low neck shirt and bending over right in my face. I think she's doing it on purpose. And she smells like... good... like way better than I expected French women to smell. This is the first thing I noticed about the French. For some reason I was expecting them all to be... well, unshaven, unwashed hippies. Is that not a real stereotype about European women, did I just make it up? It's obviously not true about the French.

Waitress: Enjoy your meal.

She smiles. I smile. Actually, I think I've been smiling this whole time. She has a very heavy accent. Is that what I sound like to her? She turns and walks away, but she'll be back with my eggs. Thank heaven for eggs. Did I mention that she was beautiful? Welcome to The City of Love.

Yours sincerely,   

Currently Reading:
Journey to the End of the Night (New Directions Paperbook)