Sunday, January 28, 2007

Paris (Sort of.) Also, a brief note.

A brief note on the title of this blog: "Geeky Girl," as a self-designated moniker seems just self deprecating enough. Seth Cohen and Willow Rosenberg have given "geek" a certain pop culture cool that "bookworm" still lacks (despite Rory Gilmore's contribution to the cause.) As is glaringly apparent from the plethora of t.v. references in the last fifty words, I watch a lot of television so "Sees" seems the most apropos verb long term. (Geeky Girl Reads appears a bit redundant. Interprets, blathers, wanks, and watches were also disregarded. "Watches" for the creepy voyeur connotation.) And though the first few entries suggest otherwise, I expect this to be primarily a t.v. blog. The only time I forsee "Sees" posing an issue is during book talk so anticipate the following heading, Geeky Girl Sees...text on a page and generates meaning accordingly. Pins and needles, I know.

There will be no scenes from a Houston layover. However, of all the things Bush does on a daily basis that make me want to scream, displaying his smirking mug while requesting $10.95 for Wi-Fi access during my three hour layover at his airport is particularly infuriating.

At Television Without Pity, there's a poster notorious for viewing every show through the prism of her own life. I view my life through the prism of t.v. Or, at least I do for the sake of this blog. So of course, the best way to prologue Paris is w/ mention of TWoP. One of my greatest guilty pleasures is the general Unpopular Opinions thread at TWoP. Sample posts include "I can't stand [insert beloved character here,]" "I hope [random series] is canceled," and occasionally, "I hate television." I tend to agree w/ many of the included opinions and sometimes, I'm even inspired to post my own. Committing to an UNpopular opinion feels a bit like a confession, it’s cathartic. You’re perversely permitted to copping to something deviant, something to which you’d otherwise never admit. Traveling has begot what I perceive to be, an unpopular opinion.

My time in Paris was spent alternately one of the two following ways, getting lost and sitting and drinking coffee.
U.O: Getting lost is not romantic. Taking the road less traveled, finding yourself off the beaten path, etc. has been idealized in film and print to the point of cliche. Wanderlust is predicated on the romanticization of an unexpected destination or even, no particular destination. Fiction has taught us that wonderful sights and strangers are the end result of abandoning your itenerary, losing your map, or leaving your tour.

My dream self, who perma-hums “More Adventurous,” subscribes to this phenomenon and was initially excited by its possibilities.
My actual self suspects this is not the best neighborhood in which to be wandering aimlessly and wishes desperately she could read a map better to find either her hotel or the Louvre. Where are the Parisians who speak english? Where are the other Americans? (Both completely ethnocentric questions I know, but I’m panicking.) Where are the signs that read, this way to the most famous tourist attractions the worldwide? An interminable metro ride yields nothing productive nor does inquiring of strangers, "Parlez-vous anglais?" ad nauseum. And now, it’s pouring. Huh. Maybe losing your way is Romantic.

After that trauma, I take refuge in a cafe to drink coffee, read, and decompress for the afternoon. Oddly surreal detail: the television on the wall plays cheesy American music videos. Bryan Adam’s “Everything I Do” followed by Patrick Swayze’s “She’s Like the Wind.” Two of our most significant exports, to be sure. (For what it's worth, I know Adams is Canadian but the song was included in an American film.)

Initially, I was fairly disappointed (in myself) with this turn of events. I spent 48 hours in Paris and didn’t see one main attraction. "If you travel to Paris and don't see the Eiffel Tower, were you really in Paris" kinds of questions creep up. But, reading Sarah Vowell while immersed in French and cigarette smoke in the 11th Arrondisement is an equally Parisian experience. And, as I learned later in my travels, avoiding pushy, oblivious tourists is always a plus. They tend not to populate small streetside cafes. Or at least, they’re quieter at said cafes than they are at say, St. Peter’s Basilica.

Perhaps this is a ridiculous rationalization on my part and hopefully, as I work out some sort of cohesive narrative for my month spent in Europe, I'll be able to make sense of it. However, reading, drinking coffee, and people watching are a few of my favorite things and as such, not a bad way to spend a vacation.

Ok, my continued search for a travel narrative means there won't be an entry on my seeing the Colosseum or climbing the Campanile in Firenze. Not anytime soon, anyway.

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