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It’s 9 a.m. Wednesday morning and the test of
my character continues. I woke at 7.15 to delicious silence, a few birds,
nothing, and appreciated the hell out of it, because at 8 the pounding began,
and at 8.10 the drilling. They drilled all day yesterday. What can possibly
demand days and days of drilling? The regular construction noise is a pleasure
next to the drill. This place is great before 8 and after 5. In between, as Jon
Stewart says, NOT SO MUCH.
I just have a few more days of this – the weekend
will be quiet, and I’ve booked a room in a small hotel in my old neighbourhood
for next week. My landlady here is going to reduce my rent,
so I can afford a treat. The hotel has the internet. Being without the ‘net is
an added difficulty when I’m making plans or want to check in with my real
life. Or just troll. Or watch Jon Stewart.
And … it’s dark and raining. That is the
real test, because if it were nice, I’d leave for a day of wandering. Nothing
better than wandering in Paris. Harder to do in the rain.
So right now, I’m lying on the sofa under a
blanket with earplugs in, Bach on my computer, the heat on to dry my socks, trying
to decide what to do today, along with every other tourist who looked outside and
said, “Shit!”
Some wise person said, stress occurs when
the mind tries to reject what is. The drilling and rain is. Nothing to do but
live with it. I’m warm, I have a roof, I’m not sick. I’m in the most beautiful
city in the world.
Last night, I went to dinner with friends
Annie and Paolo, to what she says is the best creperie in Paris, delicious – a
salty one for the meal and a sweet one for dessert. It was a friendly warm room
on a cold wet night. Much appreciated.

A great joy is the book “H is for Hawk” by
Helen Macdonald. It’s had rave reviews, which is why I bought a hardcover,
which I almost never do. Beautifully written and moving, but ye gods, these
people obsessed with hawks are lunatics. Crazy people. And yet there I am,
avidly learning how to train my goshawk. That’s what good writing can do.

5.15. I’m at the bistro drinking a beer and saying hello to my world – it’s after 5 so I can go home now. I spoke to one of the workmen – the drilling is going to continue for a month. You can hear it for blocks. 

Out into the drizzle, saw that the closest bus went to the Pompidou Centre so decided to go there. Lined up for 20 minutes before it opened, proud to be nearly first in line, only to find out when I bought a ticket that the floor for “modern art” was closed – that is, all the Matisses, Picassos, Bonnards, Monets, the best collection in Europe – closed, only “contemporary art” was open. I have to say, I hated Paris in that moment. However, I set off to see what I could: a special exhibit on Jeff Koons, very funny but not my favourite, and a whole floor of contemporary art, people making fascinating paintings, drawings, films, sculptures and bizarre things that are a bit of everything. I’m sure some of it is terrific. But often I find that modern artists have their heads too far up their own *sses – working for other artists, perhaps, not for us. Lots of kids there, having a great time. And of course, the building is spectacular.

Wandered through the Marais, the old Jewish district, unchanged in years, had lunch and sat in the sun in the stunning Place des Vosges, went to the great Carnavalet – Museum of the City of Paris, free and packed with stuff. My guidebook said to see the archeological treasures from Roman times; that section was, of course, closed. But saw lots including Proust’s cork-lined bedroom. (Pictures tomorrow – I forgot to bring the download cord to the bar.) On my way to the museum, it started to hail, and while I was inside it poured, but when I got out it was sunny again. Walked down beautiful streets full of beautiful things and houses and art and people and got the bus home. And now, a quiet evening with no drilling, a good book and my own fevered brain. Yikes. 

PS Weather forecast – rain through the weekend. This IS. 



3 Responses to “mercredi”

  1. theresa says:

    I hope it stops raining, Beth, because Paris in sunlight — or even pewter grey light — is so sublime! And guess what I'm reading, bought in London on Monday morning? H is for Hawk…

  2. Anonymous says:

    Hah! I too have purchased H is for Hawk, but haven't looked at it yet. Isn't that funny. Beth, I was glad to hear that your rent has been reduced for that flat, because there's no way I'd pay full price. The owners surely must have known that there's construction going on next door. Try to negotiate more or something else and tell them that the noise is simply "intolérable". Luckily, there are so many marvelous museums and galleries in this city, you can spend hours and hours inside (when it's raining outside). Or, you can go to the cinema! There's TIMBUKTU, BIRDMAN and other films at the gorgeous Le Balzac, just off the Champs Elysees; the Balzac is one of the last privately-owned cinemas and it's beautiful. Small espresso bar with snacks, etc. And don't forget W.H. Smith bookstore and the gorgeous GALIGNANI bookstore at 224 Rue de Rivoli.

    Juliet at

  3. beth says:

    Merci, Theresa – welcome home, or are you home? – and Juliet. As you'll read, I am feeling more cheerful. The owner lives in Turin, Juliet, and does not know how bad the construction is; my friends here, who got me the place, are mortified. Mais c'est la vie. And there's always that gorgeous book to read. Enjoying it immensely, though as I wrote, those hawk people are lunatics.

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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

Some Blogs I Follow

Chris Walks
This blog evolves. It once was about travels. Now it’s a reason to be at the keyboard that I value.


Theresa Kishkan
Theresa Kishkan is a writer living on the Sechelt Peninsula on the west coast of Canada.


I walk on. With my feet, and in my mind as well.


Carrie Snyder
Wherever you’ve come from, wherever you’re going, consider this space a place for reflection and pause.


Juliet in Paris, Spain and Beyond
Juliet is a Canadian who’s lived for decades in Paris and writes about her travels and the many things that interest her.