[https://fbcdn-sphotos-f-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-ash4/188956_452369191\ 497990_730757480_n.jpg] Marek's recent post (forwarded by Curtis) was such a classic example of finding the extraordinary in the ordinary that it (and discovering that this cafe I'm sitting in has free WiFi) has tempted me to write something about *my* ordinary life. I'm currently in a very nice cafe in the Butte aux Cailles near where I work, a fun "village within a city" that is being referred to in tourist publications as "the new Montmartre." It's a fun area, full of ordinary Parisians living their lives as if they were extraordinary.
And why the fuck not? Believer or non-believer, so-called "spiritual" or "non-spiritual," NONE of us knows fersure whether there is any life after this one, so why not enjoy this one as if it were the only one possible *to* enjoy? To do otherwise seems folly to me. It seems that way to a lot of Parisians as well. They might actually be Christians or of some other persuasion that believes that there is an afterlife, but that's...uh...after life. And the afterlife's very existence is a matter of belief, not fact. This life -- here and now -- is fact. One can either use it or lose it. I consider myself fortunate these last few days since I arrived in Paris to be sharing them with folks who prefer to use them rather than lose them. At work, I'm surrounded by an American guy and a Brit guy in their fifties, and a couple of French interns who are in their early twenties. It makes for an interesting dynamic. The women are model-thin and lovely, but rather than fritter away *all* of their todays on frivolities, they enrolled in a university course to teach them about Information Architecture, and now they're working for one of the leading computer companies in the world, and digging it. Both are incredibly bright and motivated, and best of all, they laugh a lot. So do the two older guys, so I'm fortunate in my "work crew." My "playtime crew" is just as diverse, but on the whole just as happy. I've seen none of the classic Parisian depression on this trip so far, only joie de vivre. In this cafe there are tables of French people discussing art or sports or literature or TV personalities or philosophy, the common denominator amongst all of them is that they seem to all be having a good time. Being French, they don't overdrink, meaning that I cannot detect a drunk person in the joint. They just sip at their wines and their beers and enjoy them, not chug them for the purpose (like the Brits) of getting drunk and losing their inhibitions. My take on that is that the French simply have fewer inhibitions to lose, so they can enjoy their beverages for the taste, and not treat them as a drug, or a means to an end. The crowd is also ethnically diverse. There are North Africans here, and Chinese (Butte aux Cailles being next door to one of Paris' Chinatowns) and Vietnamese and Arabs and even a few French-bread French. And they don't seem to have any problem with all of them being French. I see that in the Netherlands as well, but here it's more laid back, as if tolerance were not just politically correct, but Just How Things Are Done. Me, right now I'm the guy in the corner sitting at a small table and typing on his laptop. When I finish this post I'll close up the computer and join in some of the conversations, my French coming back to me far more rapidly than I imagined. Interestingly, I find myself *thinking* in French most of the time, and having to internally translate back to English. Go figure. That hasn't happened for me yet in Dutch. As for other differences between Paris and the Netherlands, I would have to say that the primary one that strikes me is a difference in the comfort that French people seem to have with their sexuality. In the Netherlands, people may be liberal, but they kinda "pull it in." People rarely catch your eye and hold it flirtingly there; instead they tend to open up only after some period of "getting to know you." Here, things are more open and immediate. Spring is not really here yet, but it's coming, and people can feel it, and seem to be already responding to the increased pheromone count in the air. As an example, this was the first poster I saw on my first walk around town. [http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8093/8572121285_a0c9152054.jpg] Anyway, I'm enjoying myself. Sorry to say that to those on this forum who were hoping that I wouldn't. And you *all* know that there are a few here who fall into that category. Fuck 'em. How are *they* spending their ordinary here-and-now days and nights? What can *they* find to write about them?