samedi, février 07, 2009

Bibliothèque Saint-Geneviève

Another pretty unexciting day, although at least productive. I slept in again, felt just the slightest bit better about my cold (perhaps thanks to eating three cloves of raw garlic and drinking some very strong ginger tea last night) and set out again for a day of book-readin’ in Paris’s university libraries. This time, I went to Bibliothèque Saint-Geneviève, which is right next to the Panthéon and features this lovely, high-ceilinged space with 19th-century wrought-iron arches holding up the double barrel-vault ceilings. I was regretting that I didn’t have a camera with me to take a picture of the interior, but then I realized that the library’s website has images of the arches all over the place, so I tried to pull them off the site. Unfortunately, they've all been used as background images, sliced up and merged with text overlays, so it doesn't look so good. Instead, here's a lovely picture from Flickr:

Fantastic! Anyway, the experience involved a fair bit of bureaucracy to get an access card, and then I had to order the book I wanted from the upper stacks, and then I had to circle the massive chamber for ages until I found a desk that was open so that I could sit down and finally read the book I requested.

After all of that, I left the library around 18h00 and gave some thought to making a mad dash to one of the other libraries on my list, but gave up when I stepped outside and found that it was snowing heavily. It seemed like a better idea to just go home, get some dinner, and work on some other materials that I already had at home. As I was walking back to the métro station in the snow, I noticed that everyone around me was hunched over, had hoods pulled over their heads, and looked as if they were braced for some sort of blizzard/hurricane. That’s just silly. It was snowing, but the snow was just falling straight down in big, wet flakes. You don’t hunch over and scowl at that, you enjoy the slow-motion confetti shower of white flakes, you let them give you a light coating of white, which you can then dust off with a grand gesture when you finally get to a sheltered place. If it were -15 degrees with 80km/h winds, I might be hunched over too, but Parisians were just being wusses.

But maybe I just think that because I’m Canadian.

vendredi, février 06, 2009

Every Party I Didn't Attend

Ugh, still feeling like ass.

I slept in until somewhere around 10am and slowly started getting myself together. Thanks to this potent cold, I seem to have lost my sense of smell, which I only realized when I made some of my Totally Awesome Smuggled In By Parents Peruvian Coffee and it tasted like warm water. Yay. My eggs tasted like Styrofoam; salty Styrofoam.

I know it’s one of those “did you know?” facts that are repeated to you in grade-school science classes, but it’s still always surprising how much the flavour of food depends on the sense of smell. Without a fully-functioning nose, all I could taste was the presence or absence of salty, sweet, sour, bitter and spicy. So my sweetened coffee was sweet and bitter, and nothing more. Later tonight, when I smeared what I knew to be extremely stinky cheese on a slice of freshly-baked baguette, all I got was the texture-contrast of the cheese against the bread, a slight bitterness from the aged cheese, and saltiness.

Interestingly enough, my appetites have been much reduced since my olfactory senses have been dampened. I don’t really think about eating anything until I feel hunger pangs and lightheadedness, and then I eat until I’m no longer uncomfortable, and I stop. There’s no joy in eating, but then there’s no desire to eat, either. I could see this working as a particularly masochistic form of appetite-suppression. Would you be willing to give up gastronomic pleasure for a more-controllable appetite? Hmm.

Anyway, back to my day. After dragging my feet (so to speak) and trying valiantly to motivate myself, I finally just threw myself in the shower and turned the water to just a little bit too cold. That did the trick. I wasn’t happy, but I was fully awake. The plan for today was to go to one of the four Paris libraries that I still need to visit to consult one of a series of books (first mentioned in the form of a strident complaint here), so I printed out the addresses of the various libraries, their hours, and the documents needed to get access to the collections.

Once I got outside, I was pretty glad I had forced myself to leave the apartment. It was a totally unseasonable day for Paris in winter, easily 10 or 12 degrees above freezing, sunny, clear skies, lightly breezy and mildly humid. It reminded me of the early days of spring in my area of Canada, which really did wonders for my mood. Also, something about it made me notice my cold symptoms less.

So I made my way over the one library that wouldn’t be open on Saturday, the library of the University of Paris — Clignancourt, which is near the end of the 4 métro line, Porte de Clignancourt (natch). I was braced for copious layers of bureaucracy at the library, but entry into the library was free and unrestricted, so I didn’t need to make a borrower’s card. I suppose if I had wanted to check out a book, I would’ve needed to get a card, but I was OK reading the book right there.

By the time I was done, it was nearly 18h00. There was another library on my list that was actually open late (till 22h00), so I headed over to the Saint-Genevieve library over in the 5th arrondissement, near the Panthéon. Alas, the library was open but the welcome desk was not, so I was sent away with an application form for the access card. Ah well, I should probably go home anyway.

So I had a long list of things I should’ve done tonight, and pretty much none of them happened, because I was still sick and my day of library-visiting had managed to somehow exhaust me. Fantômette had invited me to an interesting mini-conference on graffiti as public art, there was an event called Live Impact going on that featured a full night of live sets, my friend Molly was spinning at a before-party at Café Léopard, and there were at least a few other things going on that I can’t recall now.

As you can imagine, I had a lot of contrite emails to send out tonight, but I just couldn’t go out. I stayed dressed to go out until midnight, hoping that I would feel better, but eventually I realized that I wouldn’t be able to tolerate being immersed in loud music for 6 hours tonight, and it wouldn’t be nice for me to show up at a night club with my cold and share my microbes with everyone. Meh.

jeudi, février 05, 2009

I'm back!

I’m back! Whoo, that was a long week. I was a bit behind blogging on last Saturday’s events (which are finally posted!), then Sunday was spent slowly recovering from my long Saturday night, then I had a busy Monday night entertaining a friend at my place, then I was teaching on Tuesday, and then by Wednesday I had been plowed down by a powerful cold/flu/plague. So there won’t be any individual posts for the days since Saturday, but I’ll be back online for Friday, methinks.