Travis Smith: my resume, bio and photos back to the main blog page


Were happy to stay in any part of the city, though were quite partial to this area of the 10th Arrondissement.  We live close to two train stations, Gare de LEst and Gare du Nord.  Its a section of the city that is completely ignored by the rest of the city.  Its has no national museums. Every other Arrondissement, and there are 20 total, has at least one museum.  It has no cemeteries.  It has no official parks, though it does have a lovely canal only a block away from our place called Canal St. Denis.  It has no official monuments—again, every other area has at least one.  If you look in guidebooks, they often skip over the 10th entirely—or have one entry, just for show.  But the 10th is a fairly large area, full of bohemians, with a good mix of nationalities.  There are tons of small shops and restaurants and markets, and for some reason, audio equipment stores.  Its a working neighborhood, not dangerous like Pigalle or the Sacre Coeur area, not suave and debonair like Champs Mars (Eiffel Tower) or the 8th by the Champs Elyse.  There are a number of schools in the area, nothing as prestigious as a university, but a lot of trade schools and finance programs for graduates and things like that.  And theres a large working artist community—graphic designers, web developers, stained glass makers, and things of that nature.  Just up the street is the Peace and Love Hostel.  It all feels very gritty and its common to see people with odd body parts pierced and bizarre clothing.  Id like to compare it to Soho or Melrose or something like that, but frankly, its not the same as that.  Its got a flavor all its own.  Its not typical Parisian exactly, but theyre not trying to copy anywhere else either.

Back here in Paris, the woman upstairs, who I think I mentioned before, as well as vacuuming at 9 a.m. every Saturday, also does graphic design.  Also upstairs across the courtyard is a Taiwanese couple; the guy is an architecture student who is definitely in the right city to study architecture.  The girl/gal/woman (choose your “guy”-opposite) is a fashion student.  She has a sewing machine.  Susie borrowed it to make our curtains.  It worked quite well.  Downstairs is a “painter” of some renown.  I say “painter,” because we only have seen him paint twice since we got here.  I have seen him make canvases, and read the paper, and nap and walk around, but he almost never paints.  And when he does, theyre always quite small.  I think he could make a lot more money if he painted bigger, but I’m no expert.  Theres also an American fellow downstairs named Wade, who talks a lot about how ridiculous the French education system is and how frustrating and stupid everything about living in Paris can be.  Hes been here 8 years as an art teacher.

It looks like were going to be getting cable Internet access, which is quite a thrill after life at 33.6.  Our phone bill has been fairly decent.  I mean, were making a lot of international calls, and so far, we havent had to resort to selling blood or hacking the phone company.  At least as far as anyone can prove.  We actually only have had one phone bill so far; it arrived last week and detailed all our charges since Oct. 29.  So we had it easy for a while, and were surprised when the bill came.  Wed thought theyd kind of forgotten about us.  The electric bill wasnt too bad either, though weve filled all the outlets in this place with various transformers and three-way cord splitters for all our devices. The popcorn maker is actually one cord too many for the kitchen; were forever plugging and unplugging the juice maker.  Next week or so, when we get cable, thatll be really awesome, and itll mean our phone line wont be busy any more.  Hooray! (Wonder where well plug it in….)
AWWW! Since I wrote that paragraph, I found out that not only is the absolute soonest they could hook me up would be April 1 (no kidding), but they also have to mess with the infrastructure of the building, and they think now that it will be longer than that before they can give me service.  I cant hold on much longer; how am I going to download the latest version of Netscape at 33.6?

Say, dessert reminds me of a meal Susie and ate several weeks ago.  Theres a Chinese restaurant three doors down from us.  Weve had take out from it several times, but we decided to eat there once, because their service has always been great and it always has a lot of people eating there.  So we head in, and order.  Salad came with a big glob of salad dressing; it was good, but the presentation was a little lacking.  Susie’s food was yummy.  She had various steamed dumpling things.  Mine was OK, though my rice was a little gummy.  But were not gourmets by any means, so no problems yet.  Now, French meals are often ordered by the “menu” which means, you choose one of three appetizers, one of three main courses and one of three desserts for a fixed price.  So when he asked what we wanted for dessert, our choices were limited.  One choice was a Tranche Napolitean, a slice of ice cream of various flavors.  Not very Chinese, but sounds good.  Susie and I both ask for it.  When it comes out of the kitchen, its on a nice platter, with a dainty little spoon.  Only problem is, its still in the WRAPPER!  We had to unwrap it!  Picture being brought a Dove bar or one of those little Dixie cups you get at roller skating arenas.  (Though to their credit, the polite and attentive waiters whisked away the wrapper soon after we set it on the table.)  Dont get me wrong; it was good ice cream.  But if they had taken it out of the plastic, maybe drizzled a little chocolate over it to make it look all artsy, they probably could have fooled me into thinking they had some master chef in the back. Or at least SOME sort of chef.


“The sad truth is that most evil is done by people who never make up their minds to be good or evil.”

...who said it?

“Almost every American I know does trade large portions of his life for entertainment, hour by weeknight hour, binge by Saturday binge, Facebook check by Facebook check. I’m one of them. In the course of writing this I’ve watched all 13 episodes of House of Cards and who knows how many more West Wing episodes, and I’ve spent any number of blurred hours falling down internet rabbit holes. All instead of reading, or writing, or working, or spending real time with people I love.”

...who said it?

“Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones.”

...who said it?

“I play with variables constantly.”

...who said it?

“Only the person who has learned Continual Love coming from a heart of Gratitude/Worship can effectively deal with the problem of loneliness.”

...who said it?




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