Monday, October 23, 2017

Smoking at the Open Cafe

About the most exciting thing that happened around here yesterday is I finally finished my book. And I finished most of a New Yorker, which was interesting (as usual) but included a dispiriting article about Mike Pence and his many connections to the same old cadre of Washington, D.C. string-pullers like the Koch brothers. Those people have their fingers in everything. I despair for the environment, the climate, the wilderness, when they're pouring millions into looking out for their own profits and business interests.

Their approach seems awfully short-sighted, doesn't it? Do profits mean anything when the world is aflame and being raked by ever-more-powerful hurricanes? I guess the Koch brothers don't care. They're going to be ensconced in some hurricane-proof fortress.

But anyway, let's not go down that rabbit hole. I took Olga to Fortune Green and the cemetery in the afternoon, and I watched a Channel 4 documentary about George Michael that was interesting -- Michael was working on the film when he died, and it reminded me of many things I'd forgotten about his career, like his long contract dispute with Sony records that paralyzed his productivity for a time in the '90s and the death of his boyfriend from AIDS.

I also typed up some more journal entries. I'm up to April 2000 and a trip I took to London and Paris with a friend -- my first visit to both places. Who knew when I was walking around London back then that I'd eventually be living here? Life is so strange.

I wrote about one memorable evening at a bar in Paris called the Open Cafe, which I happily discovered is still there. Apparently I was quite enamored with our chirpy Bohemian pigtailed waitress, in a purely platonic I'd-like-to-be-your-roommate kind of way. My friend and I drank like fish and decided to smoke cigarettes -- a "when in Rome" impulse -- and then went dancing, and I paid dearly the next morning. It's the only time I've ever smoked tobacco, aside from a few experimental months in college when I puffed but never inhaled, and I walked around Versailles the next day with a terrible hangover.

Ah, youth. I'm glad it's behind me!

(Photo: Our plant-filled living room, seen through two layers of windows from the bedroom.)


  1. "Youth"? In 2000? I don't think so Steve. You were already middle-aged back then albeit in the early stages of middle-age.

  2. I keep forgetting that 2000 was a long time ago. And yes, what a big change that is, from being a first-time tourist to becoming an ex-pat. It' always funny how life turns out.

  3. I haven't read that NY'er article yet but I did hear an interview with the woman who wrote it on NPR last week.
    It was so depressing.

  4. Given the choice, I'd take youth over again. Then I'd get to live my life over again and hopefully not make the same mistakes again.

  5. I'd definitely do many things different if I had my youth back, make different choices but then where would that lead, certainly not to the life I have right now. maybe better, maybe a lot worse.

  6. I read that New Yorker article on line and, yes, it is depressing. And I can recall some terrible hangovers from years back when I was a smoker. Definitely paying for it now.

  7. I have a few similar memories from trips to London and Paris although, I must admit I don't recall any serious hangovers. Just lucky I guess. I did manage to avoid smoking.

  8. Oh lord, you've reminded me of my university days (nights, I mean) having drinks and then deciding smoking was a fab idea. Blech. Alcohol really does lower one's inhibitions in every way. When I think of how twitchy my bronchial tubes are today I shudder.

  9. Everything current is depressing these days -- I read it all, too, and wonder why. I can't even stand to look at Pence's smug face.


    I've never inhaled a cigarette or taken even a single puff for that matter, but I did smoke pot back in the college years. I'm not much of a drinker because it doesn't take much to make me want to just go to sleep, and I have "hangovers" from even the smallest amount of alcohol. It's just not worth it --

  10. YP: I beg your pardon! I was 33! And everything is relative.

    Vivian: SEVENTEEN YEARS! It's shocking, isn't it?

    Ms Moon: I really like the writer, Jane Mayer. She's excellent. But yeah, her subject matter is terrifying.

    Red: It's tempting to want to do some things over. I can see that!

    Ellen: Exactly! Our choices make us who we are, don't they? And I wouldn't want a different life.

    Catalyst: I suppose everyone needs at least one terrible hangover just so they understand the experience. I never expected cigarettes to affect me like that. It was definitely educational!

    Sharon: You probably enjoyed Versailles a lot more than I did!

    Jenny-O: I know. I shudder too.

    Elizabeth: Your lungs thank you! (Well, maybe not for the pot.) I read all the news too, and I also wonder why, though I suppose it's important to stay informed despite the frustrating sense of powerlessness. We'll be more motivated for the revolution when it comes! To the barricades!