Tuesday, July 3, 2012

A Postcard From Dijon

I've already sent these.  How would you like one of your own?

Dear Readers,
Wish you were here.  Today a young guy rode by me on his bike.  He was wearing the head of a donkey.  It took a second for me to realize that something was strange, then for just a tick I thought I was in a street performance of Shakespeare’s Midnight Summer Night's Dream.  But then his friend rode up behind him wearing a helmet camera.  Wouldn’t you love to know that story?

That’s why I love to travel places where I can go à pied.  On foot you’re so much closer to all the quirkiness of the world.

One way I refuse to adapt to this country, though – I have made a habit of NOT giving correct change.  This characteristic of the French is not quirkiness.  It’s just plain irritating to stand in line behind three people who all insist on counting out every centime.  And no thank you, Madame.  I don’t need your help digging through my coin purse to see if I have that one final euro that makes the count perfect.  Just take my 20€ bill for the baguette and let’s all move on.

On Sunday we tried to go to the Musée Gorsline in Bussy-le-Grand.  American artist Douglas Gorsline moved to France for inspiration.  The museum isn’t much bigger than a three-car garage in a small village in the middle of nowhere.  Except we didn’t get to see it.  The sign said knock on the door across the street and someone would come let us in to the studio-museum.  We never got anyone to answer our knock.  That’s sort of how things are over here.  C’est la vie.  You have to learn to just go with the flow.  Reserve expectations for things like success at open-heart surgery, not day to day events or plumbing (see all past comments about French toilets and my hot water problem).

Word for the day: éthylotests
France has always been very strict about drinking and driving.  On July 1 the country began requiring that all cars carry two breathalyzer tests in the glove compartment.  Two, remember.  Not one.  If you’ve spent the night drinking alcohol (duh . . . you’re in France), then you’re required to administer the test to yourself and abstain from driving if the response says you’re over the limit.  On Sunday night before the big Euro2012 final I saw a line stretching down the sidewalk at the Tabac shop (pretty much what it sounds like).  I guess they thought they might have a sip or two during the match and needed to be prepared for after.  The regulation is still debated.  Many see it as yet another impôt (tax) or a good ol’ fashioned vache à lait (cash cow) for the state.

Went to see Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom Monday night at one of the theaters that shows movies in English.  I’m slowly adjusting to the fact that they don’t sell any food of any kind at the cinema.  Sometimes they might have a vending machine. The important thing is, though, that you see that film.  Bruce Willis, Bill Murray, Frances McDormand, Edward Norton.  How can you go wrong?

So that’s what happened over the weekend.

Here is what I see as I walk
Postcards.  Snippets of impressions.  No room ever for the whole story, but enough to give you a taste of life in another part of the world.  With internet, smart phones, Skype, and every other instantaneous form of communication (did you know that I can call from a land line in France back home to another land line for FREE?) the fine art of letter writing dies a little more.  No more glossy souvenirs arriving through the post box, dreams of the future that you hang up over your desk while you await the day when you will get there yourself.

However, I want to slow down that sad literary decline.  If you like postcards, raise your hand.  Or, more practically, go to the comments box as usual and tell us about your postcard/thank you card/letter writing habit or history (you know, those things where you have to supply your own message).  Then if you want your own postcard from France, find my e-mail address on my profile page and send me a message by July 8 with “postcard” in the subject line.  Include your full name and address in the e-mail and I’ll send you a bit of vacation nostalgia.  Maybe one day you’ll return the favor.



ruth.the.writer said...

Oh my goodness! I would PAY to hear the story of the donkey head and helmet camera!! My son has been known to do off the wall stuff like that. That image is going to show up somewhere and we'll all go... "I read about that on Julie's blog!"

Julie Farrar said...

Wish I were fast enough to get a picture before they took off down the sidewalk.

Tami Clayton said...

I have a friend who sends herself postcards when she travels. She'll buy one in each location she goes to or of different things she's done while there and writes a brief note to herself about what she saw or experienced. When she gets home, she has a journal of sorts that trickles in over the next few days. I've always liked that idea.

When I travel, I always send a postcard to my friend in Germany and she does the same. I also send a few to my family in Illinois. I love to get postcards and letters. It pains me to think of future generations not knowing the joy of giving and receiving them because it is easier to text or email. I think that's one of the silly reasons I enjoy writing my Letters from Benedict series. :)

Julie Farrar said...

I buy postcards everywhere I go and shove them in my travel journal. But, hey, if I mail them to myself I'll have the stamp and everything. Cool idea.

Michele Tracy Berger said...

Hi Julie,
Another inspiring post. I love postcards and just mailed 9 today (I was practicing gratitude!). Whenever I travel I send them. My friends adore them, but as you noted the practice of sending them has definitely declined. They are such a treat to get. The ones I get now are often from students that I've written a recommendation for that allows them to travel abroad. I ask them to write if they get the fellowship/award, etc., that allows them to travel. They never forget to write!

kathy Bateman Forbes said...

You remind me of how important it is to send a wonderful picture with a bit of writing to those you love. My European friends never forget to mail me one every time they go away - we seem to have lost that practice. I will do better next time.

Love the idea of sending to yourself so that you have the stamp and the reminder that takes on right back to your trip.

Enjoy your summer - wherever you spend it.

Unknown said...

Everytime I read your posts I come away with something that helps me in planning my September adventure to France.
Postcards to one's self, documenting a walk, keeping the camera ready, free land line phone calls.
Thanks Julie!

Nancy said...

I agree with you, Julie - postcards have become a lost art. I still have a scrapbook of postcards that friends sent me when I was a kid. Maybe that's where my love of travel and travel writing began!

One postcard I remember was sent from Niagara Falls. The funny thing is we didn't live too far from there so now that I think of it, I'm going to start sending more to friends from my nearby travels. Like you, I always buy postcards to stick in my travel journal. Like Tami mentioned, I also send some to myself to help me remember my travel experience.

Michele Tracy Berger said...

Hey Julie,
I just nominated you for some blogging awards. Check out the details here:

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