February 24, 2008
The last few weeks have been a flurry of activity, mostly spent painting giant nude self-portraits, building a honeycomb cave for myself to hide in at school, discovering the Dutch extreme fat yogurt miracle called Kwark, and caring for Mr. Ed. In the in between time I made a few short and frantic shopping excursions to Antwerp and after the storm spent a few days wandering the streets of Paris on foot and on the back of a motorcycle.
An Antwerp vintage treasure I found courtesy of Episode. I’ve been super lucky with finding great sweaters there. The Antwerp shop seems more calm and inviting than the ones in Amsterdam -better for people watching too. I think I squealed when my friend showed me the elephant sweater…it was in perfect shape and only 10 euros! Actually whenever I wear it (which has been non stop) people seem to make loud squealy happy sounds -at least more so than usual.
10 februari, first day in Paris. After a rough ride into town, feeling discombobulated arriving in the city at dusk, still exhausted from a taxing and brutal evaluation at school, I woke up in a big and beautiful city unable to reach my schoolmates with whom I had travelled to Paris. There is always a bit of trepidation in my head when I’m in a new city entirely alone, but somehow I manage to find the gumption to face the newness. Having only used a bike for the daily commute the past six months, I felt like a deer in headlights navigating the Métro system and was daydreaming when I missed my St-Germain stop. I wandered out at Odéon and kept wandering until I found myself at Jardin du Luxembourg where I quickly downed an espresso, staked out a chair in a sweet spot and took a nap in the crisp sunshine.
After the nap, made my way to the Marché aux Puces at Porte de la Chapelle. Got lost amidst hiphop gear as far as the eye could see and avoided hypoglycemic rage by eating a shitty crêpe. Finally came upon a calm oasis of vintage stalls and met a friendly shopkeeper who lived in Montréal and we chitchatted in French and Japanese. An indi rock couple snagged a beautiful raggedy silk floral dress from him and I moved on. I didn’t expect to find anything really but my friend found a tiny leather bag stamped ‘cuir veritable’ which I bought from under her nose bargaining the vendor down fifty percent. It’s beautiful quality and very A.P.C. I also found a terracotta babyhead with a dead fly on its nose at an antique shop there. I was very tempted so I clutched my wallet tightly as I slowly backed away.
Day 2: Early morning wake up in Ivry, cereal on the sunny terrasse and got a tour of Paris on the back of a sweet motorcycle. Visited the main hooker street, shopped for sneakers, got takeaway lunch at Chez Marianne in le Marais and found a quiet sunny bench in a nearby park to stuff ourselves and lay comatose for a while. Isabel Marant sent a dagger through my heart so to recover from the heartbreak I went on a solo excursion to Montmartre, did the obligatory climb up to the Basilique du Sacré-Cœur and then was on a mission to find Spree. I found it, but it was closed. I pressed my nose up to the glass and breathed out a sad sigh, for this was the main reason for my pilgrimage to Montmartre -forget Amélie. Dejected and alone, with a tear-stained face I made my descent down to Barbés. My spirits were lifted when I saw a tens of rolls of colourful madras cotton in a textile shop window. I spent a ridiculously long amount of time picking which ones I wanted and finally pulled it together enough to narrow it down to three -which will make really awesome sundresses in five years time when I finally get around to making them. The shop people were curmudgeons which warmed my heart since all of the other Parisians I had met were pretty nice. (Later I witnessed a prim and proper little old lady berating a man in a mad fit of rage for trying to assist her across a busy street. It also brought a smile to my face).
Last day in Paris. It starts with Christian Louboutin and a cappuccino and ends with catching the bus back to Holland. I arrive seven hellish hours later in the middle of a bitterly cold night with no gloves to bike home in. Biking, I curse the Dutch weather as my way of saying, ‘thanks for the welcome home,’ and I find myself dumped out of the clouds and back on earth.