May 30, 2011

A Harley.

Xavier wanted to rent a Harley Davidson motorcycle. He did. He took a train to Queens to the only place in the New York city region where this sort of dream is easily realized and found the motorcycle of his dreams, got lost on his way home, picked me up and expertly drove many hours over a holiday weekend, but then also got lost on the way back to the motorcycle store (and I felt as if I were riding on a bucking bronco all the way down the Brooklyn Queens Expressway - which is a particularly potholed road - and was mad to the point of not speaking once we reached the motorcycle store - a bad sport, some might say), but the dream came true. Seriously though, I can only speak from the back seat of the motorcycle, but I can say unhesitatingly that Xavier drove like a pro (who knew he could pilot a 500-pound beast so deftly?), got the Harley because he wanted me to feel like a princess on a throne (the seat was like that) and once I let go of the overwhelming impression that I was going to die (you know when you tergiversate the chimera of New York into the martian land of Newark, NJ - sounds dramatic, but in fact, it is so...well, all that spring-up action is terrifying on a Harley Davidson), all I wanted to do was outstretch my arms and let the wind carry them behind me with so much, oh so much, wind in my face - all the way down the Garden State Parkway - to the very end, the terminus, the finale of that road: Cape May, New Jersey. In Cape May, New Jersey, we found lovely and rather remote beaches, a lighthouse and, bizarrely, horse-drawn buggies.

Highlight: toll booth. Plump toll booth worker - one ear phone in - Whitney Houston " I will always love you" blaring out of her mouth, right at the moment of the chorus for the first time. I hand her the dollar bills. Xavier belts out in synch with her crooning, "And I-ye-I will always love you-ooh ooh" in a duet, featuring vibrato (and in one case, falsetto) of the finest order. She cracked up and carried on singing.

May 29, 2011

May 26, 2011

4 years.

We did this funny thing four years ago and got married in a beat-up church in Harlem with an exalted choir and a 10-year old drummer boy. Now we live in Harlem in an exalted (according to us), beat-up house. It's worked out pretty well for us.

I've said before Xavier is like a weather system - this year we've had pretty good weather - a long day at the beach, in fact. Part of it is that I've finally broken through some of the cultural differences between us - made some real progress. Xavier's bluntness. His tendency to say "no", flat-out - "you look bad in that" - "I'm bored" (more precisely-->"you're boring me"), those kinds of things I used to take really personally. I don't anymore. I laugh.

Plus, he makes me laugh all the time - sincerely. At this exact moment, as an illustration, he is lying on the bed, inexplicably reading Tom Sawyer aloud with a heavy French accent: "Eets mighy ard to make eem work Satuurdays when all ze boys are aveeng oleedays, but e ates work more zan e ates anyzing else." When I realize what is going on, I laugh until my laptop is almost shaken off my lap.

Here is to more good weather. The forecast looks good.

May 24, 2011

Shadows on the petals.

Today the sun was out in batches, and when it was, they ruled out working productively.

May 19, 2011


"DSK": a household reference for the man in la belle France.

Three rather surprising and general reactions from the French in Paris since I am on the ground and working here right at the moment of this scandal (reactions of co-workers & friends, taxi drivers, the French papers, tabloids, etc - all sorts of discourse about the subject):

1. The obvious one: what happened was some sort of organized effort to frame DSK and to bring him down just before his moment of glory in politics. This is everywhere. This reaction is understandable, if you take into account timing and if we were talking about another man. Unfortunately, that DSK is in a position to be defending his behavior in this circumstance is not even slightly surprising given his history with women and sexual aggression. When DSK became the head of the IMF, what was written in French papers? A cautionary tract, insisting that DSK's approach with women would not be tolerated in an Anglo-American setting. He was literally called on this before it happened. This says nothing of the incident in 2002 with the French journalist (and his wife's goddaughter, no less), Tristane Banon, who claims to have been sexually assaulted by DSK and then subsequently told by her own mother to hold her tongue and not publicly speak out. The man has a history of a perverse way of thinking about women, which in no world means that he is guilty, but rather, that the immediate French assumption that he must not be is odd. Tristane Banon's mother's reaction also symbolizes something perverse in French culture. Perhaps DSK found himself in a context where his behavior would not be tolerated and that is the difference between his ability to act with impunity in the past and the position in which he finds himself today.

2. The second reaction (almost everyone mentioned this): American puritanism will taint the judicial process (so even if he is found guilty, he won't be - the verdict will merely be evidence of the American obsession with puritanism in public sexual affairs). The fact that the French choose to turn a blind eye to consensual sexual behavior by their politicians really has nothing to do with whether this person committed a crime or not. Analogously, the fact that Americans care whether or not their elected leaders engage in sexual trysts on the side is totally irrelevant as to whether DSK will be found guilty of a crime in this country. That the conversation turns to American puritanism when discussing a crime is a strange reflection on the way sexual harassment is viewed in France. In fact, I was baffled when a colleague chimed in on the DSK discussion with, "And they haven't even shown us a picture of the woman yet!" As if by viewing a photograph it could be determined whether or not she would be a worthy target for such a man as DSK.

3. The most absurd: that DSK devised this plan himself and acted as a means of wriggling out of his current political track. Tactical genius. The poor man - driven to such behavior.

The theme of all three of these reactions? DSK is not to blame. Whether this is true or not, it is fascinating that the French could be so unequivocal in their response and their defense of such a reputable figure.

May 18, 2011


Like most other gals, boy, do I have things to say about the French at the moment. But I am going to keep it totally superficial for the moment: makeup ---->

(That says Guerlain). Guerlain makes all sorts of fanciful creations - the device holding the lipstick is a creation worth having (the weight is perfect - substantial, luxurious).

Marguerite spotted the perfume and I was with her on these bottles: exquisite. The French are good at that - making things worth looking at.

May 17, 2011

May 15, 2011


To a forest. Green green green. So green.

Photosynthesis, explains Marguerite - clearly what is going on here above us and all around. Jules ponders and eventually concurs.

For me, the only unfailing inspiration is nature. Cities all over are beautiful, but when you breathe in trees, walk through their exfoliation, listen to the wind there, sense them lumbering over you, nowhere else compares.

May 14, 2011

May 13, 2011

May 11, 2011


Over the weekend we sashayed over to Rambouillet, where the château de Rambouillet awaited us. (This is the one about which Marie-Antoinette is rumored to have declared she could never live in such a toadhouse!)

Marguerite came equipped.

Choices, choices - such difficult choices, her tapping fingers and stance bellowed.

The geese gibbered in the grass.

The sun shone in stripes.

The poppies were declaring their love of this crazy Parisian weather. (This entire Spring in Paris has been a dream)!

And the château was lucky enough to have very good porters keeping watch.

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