Posts Tagged ‘Le Chat Noir’

Blue Hawaii

March 28, 2019

And Paris without you.

God damn it.

I’m still pissed at you.

Granted I have my own self to blame for that.

I should not have gone on social media.

I had you blocked.

Not because I was worried about you seeing me, no.

I didn’t want to be looking at your photos.

And I did it anyway.

I looked last night.

I know you’re in Hawaii and I knew you were going to be there and I had to look.

Ugh.

Wrong.

Wrong.

Wrong.

It doesn’t help that I want to go to Hawaii with you and that the trip I have tentatively planned for July has your name written all over it.

Or that I have thoughts about you in the ocean, swimming, your eyes wet and blue.

I’m so angry still and I’m still so damn sad.

Not as much.

Not every day.

And so, of course, the person to be angry with is me, I know better than to go onto social and look up your photos.

It hurts.

No more of that.

Although, why?

I can’t figure it out, a photo of us pops up every day, every day on my computer despite closing the photo app.

Every day your blue, blue, bluest eyes stare out at me as I see us on the red leather couch in the Air BnB we rented in D.C.  My eyes are closed, I’m kissing the side of your face and you have your arm wrapped around me.

Sometimes the photo makes me jump.

Sometimes I forget it’s there.

I have shut down the computer, restarted the computer, closed the app, and it just randomly pops back up.

Can’t get away from it and I use my computer all the time.

I mean.

Fuck.

I am working on a PhD I drag the damn thing around like it’s a security blanket.

And there you are, sweet face and dreamy and I know that we were in front of a fire and the color of your eyes and the shape of my face, and my hair tumbled down around my shoulders.

Ugh.

It hurts.

Not as bad.

I will admit that.

Things haven’t hurt so awful in the day-to-day.

Get me in my therapy sessions and I’m a fucking mess, but hey, that’s therapy and I leave it there in the wet balls of crumpled tissues streaked with mascara.

I joked with my therapist this past session that my tears must be some kind of napalm right now as I have tried three different kinds of waterproof mascara and the shit just slides off my eyelashes when I cry.

I yelled at you tonight.

In the car.

On the way home.

Thinking about you on an island and me here and then I’ll be going to Paris and well, fuck, you’re supposed to be in Paris with me.

Damn it.

We were supposed to do Paris.

You know it.

I know it.

Fuck.

Fuck.

Fuck.

Paris, baby.

You were supposed to go to Paris with me.

I hella splurged too.

I mean.

I got a place to stay, cute, bohemian, arty, obviously someone who was an avid flea market shopper, and I got a great deal, super cheap, $1,000 less than most of the other places I was looking at.

So I booked it.

And alas.

The woman got back to me and said she wasn’t able to let me rent it as she was going to be in Paris for Christmas.

Oh well.

I went back and looked some more and I looked at hotels and I really had to think about where I wanted to stay and why.

I wanted to make sure I was in the Marais, my best friend lives there and it’s my favorite part of the city and very central.

Hotels were not cheap and I went back to looking at Air BnB.

This one place kept calling me back and it was more than I wanted to spend, but then again, I knew I had the money in savings to cover it, I’d have nine months to save up more, I deserve to stay somewhere nice, the last two times I stayed in Paris I stayed with friends and didn’t pay for accommodations and the time before that I stayed in a hella cheap place and regretted it almost immediately.

I kept going back to this listing and then I said, fuck it.

I’m booking it.

It’s where I’m supposed to be and I’m going to let myself stay there.

Gorgeous tapestry wall paper.

Fireplace!

Full kitchen.

Dining area.

Plus red velvet chairs.

Couch with a red velvet throw.

Separate bedroom up this sweet curving stair case.

Big huge bed under the eaves.

Gigantic bathtub in the room!

Bathtubs are a rarity in French apartments, so to get one and it’s big, huge luxury.

It’s super pretty and I’m super grateful I booked it and I paid for the whole thing up front.

Done and done.

I was so excited when I booked it the night before last.

And then.

Tonight.

I wasn’t.

I was hurt and angry and thinking about you and your vacation pictures and I just yelled at you in the car, how we’re supposed to be in Paris together, walking the streets, eating all the food, cheese, chacuterie, drinking all the coffee, snuggling on the red velvet couch, having sex on the red velvet couch, the bed, the floor in front of the fire-place, the bathtub, meeting fellows in church basements, seeing all the sites, making out in public, holding hands.

I wanted to take you to the one cafe I know about in the 11th that’s super good and order food for you in French and then happy and replete I would walk you along the Seine to look at the Eiffel Tower when it lights up with glitter lights.

Damn it.

We were supposed to do Paris together.

I know that the sting will wear off, I mean, my trip is not until December, but right now, I feel hurt and sad and yes, angry at you.

Oh God.

The places I wanted to take you.

A walk in Pere LaChaise cemetary.

And the L’ile des Cygnetes, Island of the Swans, in the middle of the Seine, that has one of Statue of Liberty models on it that the artist did as he worked on the scale for the one sent to Americar.

Oh.

And all the outdoor markets, buying cheese and fruit and bread for you.

I wanted to take you to the amazing restaurant in Belleville that my friend took me to last summer and then go to Le Chat Noir and do the Paris Open Mic and recite you poems I have written about you.

But I won’t.

I won’t be doing any of those things.

I’ll be taking a bath under the eaves of a mansion on Rue de Parc Royale.

A bath with bubbles.

And I will sit in front of the fire and fingers crossed, not be sad to be alone, again, in Paris, without you.

 

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Letting Myself Get Excited

May 3, 2017

I think today it finally sunk in that I am really going to go to Paris soon.

Like I fly out next Thursday.

It has a lot to do with the being done with my papers.

It also has to do with clearing up some housing issues and having all my places situated.

One of the spots I’ll be staying in is actually a place I have stayed in before.

Mama Shelter.

I stayed there when the hotel first opened in 2007.

I got a stellar deal on it since it was new and in a somewhat, not now, but at the time, dodgy neighborhood.

But it was perfect for me.

It reminded me a lot of the area of the Mission that I lived in, dodgy, but charming, easy to navigate and really not a tourist spot.

A bit off the beaten track.

But a very lovely part of off the beaten track.

109 Rue Bagnolet.

It’s in the 20th arrondissement, predominately still a very working class neighborhood.

Not really central, but two, three blocks, five-minute walk to the Metro line 2 and near Pere LaChaise and my very favorite books store Le Merle Moqueuer.

There’s also Le Chat Noir, where I have done open mics, and Rue Denoyez which has some fantastic graffiti and mural art.  I mean there’s some fantastic artists in the 20th, I have a lot of photographs of murals and graffiti from my many walks through the area.

I’m only there one night, though, then staying with a friend in a more central location.

So I’ll get my gritty “real” Paris feel for my first night and rendezvous with my old haunts and cafes and libriaries  before heading toward central Paris for the rest of the trip.

I am so excited.

I was talking about my trip today with my therapist and how it came about and challenges I have had in the past with female friendships and how excited it was to have planned this trip with my French friend in the cohort, how happy I am to have her as a friend and how I have a tough time saying what I need in relationships with women.

I didn’t exactly have the best modeling around female relationships.

We talked about how important my friendships are and how I often feel a bit lonely, so many of my friends have moved out of San Francisco and I have said goodbye to many precious ladies.

I will say good-bye to more as the school year wraps up this weekend and I won’t see some faces until next fall.

And.

Some faces I won’t see at all.

I am sad for that, I will be crushed when my dear friend moves back to Paris, but then again, what a fabulous excuse to get me to go back.

I assure you I will be visiting her a lot.

We have already tentatively talked about next May and I am sure there will be many other trips to Paris to see her sweet face.

And there will be this trip to Paris.

I decided to even let myself do the super uber touristy thing.

Something I have disdained from doing, but um, actually sort of want.

A Paris black zip hoodie.

My friend that I lived with in Paris had one and I secretly loved it but I couldn’t ever bring myself to buy one, somehow it just felt too hokey.

But I realize.

I want one.

So.

Heh.

Expect to see some photograph of me in the near future sporting a black, zip hoodie with Paris emblazoned across the chest.

Fuck it.

I’m only going to live once.

I have also gotten an idea of what I want for my Paris tattoo.

Anticonformiste. 

In script on my left forearm.

I definitely am not someone who conforms much.

Whether physically, emotionally, or spiritually.

I often find myself doing things differently.

I am also smitten with a monologue on the Bon Entendeur music app that I have on my phone which has actors speaking about moments in their lives, scripts, films, revealing moments, then it’s woven into the tracks, deep house, chill, electro, and one of my favorites that I have been listening to a lot is Astier, Anticonformisme.

The track list is so good.

Astier starts out talking, in French, about how his mother was always drawn to certain people, neither rich or poor, of a certain temperament, that tend to buck the system, to be artists, lovers, musicians, humans, and how he admired this trait in his mother and how she brought him up to appreciate the creative.

I love the monologue and the music is just so good, I’ve been listening to it a lot to have French in my head for the trip.

I will probably queue up Amelie as well as Je t’aime Paris, soon, they are sort of my go to movies to get my ears back into French.

I digress.

Back to my tattoo.

I just thought, what a fucking awesome idea for a tattoo, which is anti-conformist thing to do, getting a tattoo, and it speaks to me, speaks to me of my love for French house music and electro, of being an artist, of doing things outside the box.

I am pretty sure that’s what I am going to get, but I’ll leave it open.

I am going to get a tattoo though.

And yes.

Ha.

My sweatshirt.

Hey, I live in the Outer Sunset, often a land of heavy chilly fogs, I need another hoodie.

I only have three.

Heh.

Oh Paris.

All the things we shall do together.

I am counting down the days.

I am watching the weather forecast.

I am planning my outfits.

I am greedy for you, my love.

I shall be seeing you soon.

Oh.

So.

Soon.

Yes.

 

I’m Done!

May 1, 2017

I’m done!

I’m done!

I am done.

I wrote my last paper for the semester today and I got it done faster than I thought I would, my friend in the cohort told me it was going to be a much easier paper to write than Trauma, that it would, in effect, write itself.

That was exactly my experience.

Almost spooky how it wrote itself.

Nine pages, 2,832 words.

It took about two hours to write, maybe two and a half.

I was shocked how quickly it happened and I had absolutely no problems or sticky spots, it just flowed out of my fingers and I was able to finish and have a really nice late lunch out on the back patio.

I did my typical Sunday gig and roasted a chicken and made a pot of brown rice while I was doing the writing.

I was rewarded with a yummy lunch eaten al fresco under the warm sun.

I was stunned, actually, I still am a little.

It all happened.

It all got done.

I even, shhh, read a little today after my meal and it was pleasure reading!

Holy shit.

I haven’t done that in a while.

I don’t have to read anything for school for the next weekend of classes, I’m done with the reading, I’m done with the papers.

I sent in my Couples Therapy paper last Sunday and did my Trauma paper yesterday and my Community Mental Health paper today, the Trauma and CMH paper I will be handing in hard copies of.

I will do a small presentation of my paper to my Trauma class but I don’t actually know that we are going to be doing a whole lot of work in my other classes.

I feel like I’ll just be floating through next weekend, just showing up and turning in the papers and making attendance for my classes.

I won’t have to be doing any catch up work or reading, I won’t have any papers or projects due after the final weekend.

All I have to do is show up and turn in the papers.

I can take it easy the rest of the weekend.

I won’t skip out on the classes, mostly because I want to see my friends and since I am paying for the experience, I’m going to go and have some experiences.

I am off to my second hour of supervision tomorrow morning before work and that’s really about my only school obligation for a few weeks until I start the internship.

I made it through!

God it feels good.

I did yoga today too, even though I am not a fan of the teacher that was the substitute, I showed up and got some stretching in and put in my time, it’s a practice I need to keep practicing.

I am breathing and being in my body and it helps to do that before I write my papers, takes the edge off, gets the anxiety out of my body and frees up my mind to do the work.

I am grateful for the little yoga studio in my hood.

I am grateful for my hood.

Seeing people I know, being seen.

Going to the coop, having dinner tonight at Thai Cottage.

I had a date as well.

We went to Thai Cottage.

There was kissing, but I did not invite him in.

I am actually quite proud of myself for that.

And I can’t actually tell if I want to pursue it or not.

I liked him, he’s attractive, smart, tattoos, sober.

But I went in and out of being interested.

The kissing was nice.

But it wasn’t the key to unlock the door to my studio.

I’ll have to go on another date.

I’m not usually this ambivalent.

It’s usually a yes or a no.

This guy is a maybe.

I’m not worried about it, no, not right now, I do have a lot happening this upcoming week, supervision tomorrow, therapy Tuesday, doing the deal, connecting with ladies to read books over tea, work, then school over the weekend.

Thursday one of my girl friends from the cohort will spend the night with me and we’ll head off to class together Friday.

And next week.

Paris.

Oh my God.

I can actually see getting on a plane now that I finished up all the final papers for class.

It’s not so surreal.

It’s happening.

I am so very excited.

It’s going to be so nice to have ten days off.

I ran into a friend in the fellowship yesterday and told him about my Paris trip, he’s a big Francophile and a photographer and his photos are on the walls of the cafe I was at, most of them alleyways in Paris, and it was with much excitement that I shared I was going.

He asked me to send Paris a kiss from him.

We talked about the museum pass and he said, “you got to get the three-day for sure.”

I’m actually thinking about getting the four-day, I’m going to be there for ten days, well eight when you take out the travel time, but still I can definitely do four full days of museums.

The other four days, Sacre Couer, The cemetary in the Montmartre, Pere LaChaise Cemetery, the markets, the broquantes, some clothes shopping, a tattoo from Abraxas, getting lost and then found in the Marais, walks along the Seine, the Luxembourg gardens, the Tuilleries, maybe a pop into Le Chat Noir and do the Paris open mic scene for old times sake.

There will be plenty for me to do.

And I get to do it without worry about school or internships or work, it’s all lined up.

I have a great job, a good internship, I’m wrapping up my second year of my Master’s degree, it’s all happening.

It feels so good to have these papers put to rest.

No stress for the rest of the week.

Just showing up for my responsibilities and recovery.

For friends.

And fun.

Definitely can squeeze a little more fun in there for sure.

I got my papers done!!

So.

Over the moon.

Seriously.

I’m Not Tech Savvy

July 24, 2016

But.

I am listening to music that my dearest friend put together as a playlist for me.

French music.

From a Parisian.

I feel so special.

Seriously.

I love me some French music.

Perhaps because it is an easier way for me to understand the language, lyrics tend to be repetitive, simpler than every day conversation and lyrical, which makes it easier for me to access.

And there is just something to it.

I want to couples dance with someone in a cafe with ceramic black and white tiles.

The smell of tobacco smoke drifting in as the door opens.

The smell of coffee in the air.

The low light, the ambiance, maybe I need a French cafe in my home, whenever I get it.

Either that or just frequent trips back to Paris and this time to also experience the night life a bit more, the cafe music life, I got into the spoken word a tiny bit with my excursions to Le Chat Noir for Paris Spoken Word events and had a tiny taste.

But to be there with a Parisian and be let into that exclusive view.

Delicious.

It’s sexy and sensual and worldly.

All things I aspire to.

I got to record with Adriana Marchione today for a podcast she’ll be posting along side  her ongoing project “The Creative High” .

I was really honored to be thought of and it was a great experience, and I have to say, I felt my voice, I was in my voice and it felt really powerful.

And.

There’s something to be said to having an artist, an auteur, and a teacher, interested in my work.

Also.

How she described me.

Well.

I’ll leave you in a little suspense, but it was quite flattering.

The podcast will go up in about a week and will be on her website.

I got to share a part of my story, a bit about my process, my experience with writing, blogging, poetry, the little bit of spoken word I have done, my best friend passing nine years ago and how that prompted me to Burning Man, my other best friend and how she was the person to whom I went to for help when things all came crashing down.

It was a great experience and I didn’t prep for it other than run through a small set list of poetry pieces of my own that are memorized.

Three.

That’s it.

I have three of my works memorized.

But they please me and it’s nice to share them once in a while with someone.

I shared about the patron last year from Burning Man and doing the collaboration with him.

I talked about my memoir(s) and how I still don’t know what to do with them, or how to go about getting them together, but also, how much that striving has pushed me towards places and experiences that I was just not expecting.

At all.

It also gave me another taste of recording.

And I have to say, I liked it.

“Are you going to do something for the talent show,” I was asked by the amazing MC last night before it was about to start, “you sing right?”

I told her I didn’t.

“You look like a singer,” she said.

Now there’s a compliment.

I admitted that I do some spoken word.

But frankly, it didn’t feel appropriate to recite one of my pieces to the fabulous birthday girl, they weren’t quite in the spirit of what was happening, and they also weren’t pieces that would have been celebratory of her and her experience.

And that was important to acknowledge.

There was a moment, I thought, well, there’s that one piece that might be fun, but really, it would have been to garner my own attention and I wanted to just sit back a little and be a wall flower and watch the main act and really enjoy that I got to have the privilege of being asked and then showing up to celebrate someone’s life and the gifts that she brings into her circle of friends.

It was a great honor.

And fun.

Although I had to bail “early.”

Heh.

Though I was slightly shorted on my sleep, I came home and unwound and blogged and watched part of Stranger Things.

Which.

Side fucking bar.

FUCKING AMAZING.

So good.

I mean, I really can’t recommend it enough, except.

Well.

Ha.

I’m susceptible to the scary.

And I did have a moment last night when I was curled up in my bed with my hands literally over my ears, because I did not want to hear the soundtrack and I was preparing myself for the scary, that I thought.

Hmm.

Maybe I should’t watch this right before I go to bed.

Oof.

It’s good.

Seriously.

Check it out.

End side bar.

I can’t just get right into bed, even on a late night, so, not so much sleep was gotten.

But.

Oh.

I took a nap today.

I am so proud of myself.

I never nap.

And it was just begging to happen.

I mean, only getting five hours of sleep will catch up with me, sometimes it’s not so bad and I can have an extra cup of coffee, but I didn’t want to blow my vocal cords out and be dehydrated from drinking coffee today, so I skipped my usual Saturday morning large coffee with my person today at Tart to Tart.

Then went straight to the podcast, after that to Scooter Centre, then to Scuderia, since Scooter Centre was unexpectedly closed, aired up the tires, scooted home, ate a late lunch, caught up with a girl friend on the phone, and then I looked at the time.

I can nap for one hour before going to my new Saturday night commitment.

I folded up my laundry, nothing says sexy like knowing I’ll get to slip into fresh washed sheets tonight, and grabbed a pillow.

I lay down at an angle on the bed, on my back, head propped up on a small throw pillow and closed my eyes.

It was just a touch chilly.

Afghan, the one I got in the mail from my grandmother.

I reached for it.

It had been sitting folded on the end of my chaise lounge in the sun.

Extraordinary.

It was like being wrapped up in warm soft sunshine.

Best nap ever.

Covered in the love of my grandmother.

Warmed by the sun.

After getting to do some art and be available to my friend.

It was glorious.

I almost didn’t get up.

In fact.

Had I not had that commitment, I would have gone back to sleep.

Grateful I didn’t, I don’t need to muck with my sleep schedule.

But.

Boy howdy.

That might have been one of the best naps I have ever had.

Plus.

It was good to connect with my people.

To see and be seen.

To not let myself be isolated.

A sweet, simple, glorious little day.

Full of light and warmth and art.

Poetry.

Narrative.

Recovery.

I mean.

Really?

My life is fucking awesome.

Seriously.

It is.

Happy.

Joyous.

Motherfucking.

Free.

 

Mixed Signals

March 18, 2013

I don’t want to tell the Universe what to do.

Yes I do, who the fuck am I kidding?

I want to stay here and I am putting it out there, keep me here, will ya?

Of course, I don’t know how, and I am willing to do what needs be done.

The question is, what needs be done?

I don’t know.

John Ater told me last night, we had a successful Skype session, that I was never going to know, knowing is not a part of the story, never was, never was going to be.

He told me a story about surrender and it resonated with me.

I gave up on Friday.

I had a lovely relaxed day on Saturday.

I took the bit back in my mouth yesterday, tried to figure it out, banged myself around a bit, gave up again, said, what ever, and went to bed early.

I got up today went the way I had to go to get the crazies out of the tree branches and had nine people say, “stay” and one person say, “go.”

The stays are winning it for me, of course, but how?

I am not arguing for my limitations, which John helpfully pointed out I was doing and I got a few interesting e-mails today.  One from the English department at the American University.  The gentleman in question said staying in the country is not too hard, go to London and get your passport stamped.

Been there, done that.

Working papers, that is another thing entirely.

However, he invited me to swing by for office hours and I am going to do that next week.

I also went out and did a little open mic action at Le Chat Noir tonight, taking it upon myself to continue carving out a life for myself here.  I also believe it is good practice for me to go, as I find myself more prone to working on my poetry and that is important to me.

It may not be important to anyone else, but as a poet before I was a memoirist or a blogger, it is my first love.

Tonight the thematic was “navigation”.

My poems were on the navigation of Eros.

“Well played,” she said leaning into me as I sat back down, shaky, and hot-headed.

“Thanks,” I said, and leaned into the wall.

I was the last performer of the first round, I actually got there before all the spots were filled in.  I also realized that depending on who you are and what you want from the open mic, the people performing ask to be put into certain rounds.

My first time there I was late, busy getting lost, and I was the second to last person to perform.

Last week, I was late again, babysitting gig in Asniers-Sur-Seine, third to last person this go round.

“Are you performing tonight,” the girl with the blonde bob asked me as I passed her in the bar of Le Chat Noir.

“Yes, I am,” I said, “Helen?”

“Yes!  You remembered my name, you are amazing, I missed you last week, I had to go, it was too late.”

“I will be the last person in the first round,” I said.

“Good, I look forward to hearing you,” she smiled and pushed up to the bar.

I went down the wood stair case into the basement and stuck myself in the corner.  I was better prepared tonight as well, I brought my own bottle of Badoit.  Not going to drop 3.50 Euro on a small bottle of Perrier when I can get a bottle of bubbles at Carrefour for less than half that.

My voice felt good.

I felt nervous, but I always feel nervous.

The poems were well received, or so it felt, and I remembered to breathe, pause, slow down when I wanted to go fast, to say the words, to alter the pace, to emphasize the click clack of alliteration.  I like to alliterate and do internal rhyme scheme.

Just my schtick.

I filled up another notebook this morning and realized I have a small journal that is full as well, which makes four full up journals since my arrival.

I just remembered, I must get myself a glue stick, one of the ways I remember is to paste little items in my notebooks of my journeys.  The notebook I finished this morning has the ticket stub from the Dali Museum, my backstage bracelet to the Social Club from Friday nights club outing, a walking guide of the Jardin des Plantes, a Carmen Miranda sticker (my girl Jennifer sent me a sheet of Carmen Miranda stickers from Flax in San Francisco), the top of the Lauderee tea canister–mint green paper with a gold leaf cupid on it–I pulled off the label, and the open mic flyer from last weeks performance.

I can open any of those journals and not only re-read what my experiences where during the time I was doing the writing, but I can just look at my scrapbook souvenirs and see it just as well.

I don’t know how many more notebooks I will get to fill.

But, hey Universe, I would love to fill a few more.

I do surrender to not knowing.

I do.

I also surrender to the fact that I want what I want.

I may not get it, the longing for the fantasy has been greatly offset by the realities of living here.  The reality of living here is that it is hard.

Hard,hard, hard, but I don’t have a regret.

Not a one.

I won.

I am winning.

The Paris experiment.

The Paris experience.

This is a win/win.

I get to see it all about me, in the words I write, in the poems I speak, in the wet pavements I slide on down on my way to the Metro, in the photographs I take, stopping in the rain to juggle my glasses and umbrella and messenger bag.

Door Way

Door Way

Metro Couronnes

Couronnes Metro

“Stay,” he said, busking my cheeks with kisses.

I would like to.

What do you say, Universe?

I await your direction.

 

I Found the Hipsters!

March 5, 2013

I knew they were here.

Sure enough.

Le Chat Noir, open mic night drew them out in all their white skinny arm tousled hair black eye-glass framed glory.

Aw.

Hipsters.

You are so cute.

I could put you in my pocket and snuggle with you at night and we could talk about that book of poetry nestled next to your bike lock in the back pocket of your skinny jeans.

I was sitting on a padded stool texting the friend I was supposed to meet at the cafe.

The friend who never showed.

Thank you very much.

When I saw him pull up, rucksack on his back, long hair flowing, hipster beard just this side of scruffy, worn sweater riding up showing off the belt that held the lock on the right and soft covered book in the other pocket.

It was love at first sight.

I was home.

I heard poets from San Jose, CA.  Portland, New York, Brooklyn, England–London–and another town I did not catch, a stand up comedian, who is an American in Berlin performing comedy while studying German, really awkward and annihilating, great comedy, a French chanteuse, all of 8 years old (her dad was there playing guitar) who opened the show with a duet of songs, a really horrible reading from a girl who read, and slaughtered a Charlie Chaplin speech, and I heard a new poet who I was quite taken with–James Jules.

No idea who he is, however he was the “headliner” of sorts, or better, the feature.

The sets run seven people deep and each person gets five minutes and is gently, depending upon the level of intoxication of the host, which increased as the night went forward, or abruptly pulled off stage.

There are three sets the first starts at 9pm and is the set most attended.

I suspect the performers are there early to get those slots.

I arrived a little late as I got, wait for it, lost.

But not too lost.

I am still getting lost, but not nearly as bad.  I generally have an idea of the direction now and get my bearings a lot quicker.

I walked into the cafe and did not see my friend and it was tight and narrow and crammed with people scribbling in notebooks, a gargle of languages being tossed about in the maw of the bar and spat into my ears.

I could not understand a bit of what was happening, where the stage was, how to sign up, whom to talk to.

However, I had at least done a small bit of research before heading out. Click here to check it out. I saw a man standing in the corner of the cafe talking with a rather tall man with a beret, yes, and glasses, and yes, leather patches on elbows.

The man in the corner was wearing a top hat.

He’s the ring master I thought.

I approached.

“Do you know where I can sign up for the open mic?” I asked.

He looked rather startled, “that’s me,” he said and pulled out a black soft covered moleskin.

I wanted to say that I recognized his hat from the photo on the website, but the moment passed.

He flipped it open, “Yup, I have a few spots left, third set, you’re number six, what’s your name?”

“Carmen.”

“Carmen, ok, excellent.”  He placed the moleskin back in his pocket and continued with the conversation he was having with beret man, turning away from me to drink from his glass of beer.

I made my way outside, where I spotted hipster poet man pulling up on his bike, texted my friend letting her know I wasn’t going onto until the third set.

Plenty of time to get nervous.

I ordered a Perrier avec citron at the bar and made my way downstairs.

Gratefully I got a seat on the last bench in the very back of the room, it ended up being the spot to be in, as I also got asked on a date from the man who ended up sitting next to me the rest of the evening.

A man who stayed to hear me perform after his brother, mother, friend, sister and sister’s date left to catch the Metro.  They were all there for the brother who was performing.

I hit it off with the mum, Joyce, who is from London and had the most interesting story.  I lent her an elastic band.  It was hot in the room the press of bodies, the weather finally warming, the nerves of the performers providing extra sizzle in the small space.

She pulled her blonde hair up into a high pony and we chatted in between the first and second set.  She was married to a man from South Africa and moved from London to Paris with her then three-year old daughter and they adopted two boys.

One of whom ended up after the re-shuffling of seats that generally occurs in a pub space between sets–the trips to the loo, the bar, the outdoors to smoke a cigarette–sitting next to me.

We hit it off after stifling laughter at a poet who was performing and was so bad he was funny.  Which we both figured was the point, the schtick of it, he was rather like the comedian Stephen Wright.  Juan’s mum, that’s his name, I know as I gave him my phone number when he asked to take me out for a drink, thought the poet was actually being a poet and hushed the two of us as we sat helplessly shaking with suppressed laughter when the poet spoke of the Gerber daisy in the champagne glass dying in the window.

God I hope it was a schtick.

If not, we were horribly rude, but it had to have been a joke, it was just so bad.

Not as bad as the girl from San Jose who read a personal narrative, ie journal entry, that was so full of cliché and superlatives and adverbs and excessive “you knows” that it was hard to sit still.

Of course she made a point of coming up and engaging with me after it was over.

I was nice, mom, don’t worry.

I did not perform as well as I would have liked.  Took too long to get me up on stage and I was not hydrated enough, plus I had a big attack of nerves.  Juan was sweet telling me to breathe and offering to get me a glass of water, but it was too late and I was up.

Under the bright lights, in Paris, open mic.

My voice was not as full as I would like, I could feel the need for hydration to ease the words out, but I mustered through.  I also was going too fast, which I realized after the first stanza, I forced myself to breath and step into the poem.

And I nailed it.

I had them.

I could feel it.

They were with me and they leaned in and I delivered.

I did two pieces and I got great feedback.

I will go back.

I also found out that they have started a magazine and I will submit to it.  I will also be checking out a possible volunteer position with a writers group that needs some organizational help putting on readings by known authors and poets.

I will be getting my networking on.

And my voice out there.

Out here, in Paris.


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