Residency Report: Julie Arrives in Paris!
Bonjour de Paris! I arrived on Friday morning and it has been a productive three days of getting settled in. I’m happy to say that despite a few initial failed encounters in French, I am very much getting into the rhythm of daily life here.
No pretense: Paris can be an intimidating city. It is huge and, well, peaceful does not come to mind when one imagines the bustling streets of Paris in springtime. I am incredibly fortunate that my friend Sylvestre is living here right now, not far from my apartment. It is entirely thanks to him that I was able to get oriented rather quickly. On Saturday we spent nearly six hours walking around our neighborhoods and then up to Montmarte to see the view of Paris from Sacré-Cœur. From there it is clear: Paris is not large; Paris is enormous. But of course, in a city so large, it is your neighborhood which becomes distinct and I am very happy with mine. As far as design inspiration goes, I estimate there are approximately 4 billion individual pieces of signage within one block of my apartment.
I am already appreciating the way in which daily necessities require you to get out and see many people and many new things; buying food is a more specialized daily routine. And though it was at first intimidating to walk into la boulangerie with 20 people in line, anxious about mon français pathetique, everyone has been incredibly kind, patient and knowledgeable. Suggestions were explained when buying cheese, I was asked in how many days I wanted my avocados to be ripe. Time is taken to stop and sit down to drink coffee properly. Meals are unhurried, to say the least. Some people walk slowly down the street but there isn’t the palpable frustration with this like there sometimes is in New York or London—you pass when you can. The dichotomy of this insanely hectic city with the focus on making time to stop for the small pleasures in life works very well for my brain.
And though I swore off presidential elections for four years, last night I watched the coverage at a venue called La Bellevilloise. If you did not know, in France you do not see the behind-the-scenes trickling in of votes and projections like we do in the States. No one knows anything and then there is a countdown to 8 p.m. and then they just reveal the winner(s). It can be pretty gut-wrenching.
But, today, feeling oriented and unpacked, I start my first full day of working remotely and I am ready! I have a great big table to work on and my apartment is bright with huge windows that open when it’s warm. Getting set up to communicate with the team back home has been flawless and it’s amazing how connected I feel to home. Technology, sheesh!
Over the next few weeks, I will meet with a great variety of creative people doing all kinds of work in different industries and scales. And though I am still very American, eating lunch at my “desk” right now, I am taking care to take both hands off the keyboard and enjoy the bites of cheese I am taking in between sentences. 🙂