Sunday, December 15


wednesday night.
was dave's coucous and champange party. the french get angry when you call it champagne and it is not from champagne. you are supposed to call it sparkling wine. anyway, it costs us one euro a bottle and colin arrived on rollerblades with three different types. dave's apartment, which he gets in exchange for tossing around a four-year-old a couple of hours a week, is really just a very small room a little larger than muna's kitchen; his swedish friend who we did not meet had labelled all the walls and corners with paper signs that said in pink highlighter pen things like "garage" (next to his suspended bicycle) and "library" (next to a tiny corner shelf with three books on it) and "tarass" (afixed to the window) and "root celler" (the cabinet under the sink). ten of us make a crowded party and he lives at place de clichy in the 18e so when chris and i missed the last metro we walked for quite a while, getting increasingly lost, considering stealing mopeds and eventually caught a taxi just long enough to get our bearings le notre dame s.v.p! le saint michel metro! hey, i know where we are now...non, arretez! ici, ici!

thursday i walked out into the day listening to dntel and singing loudly along with two of the songs, the only two that are really singable, numbers 1 and 9; i had an appointment to meet canadian marc at 14 oclock at the pantheon and was wasting time walking along rue gay lussac past the medical schools and science schools and it was a blue sky above for once. next to the institute curie there was an enormous mountain of old AAAS journals and chemical biology textbooks being thrown away and i hollering with utter joy i couldn't stop my hands from scooping up as much as i could carry, staggering to the steps of the pantheon to sit with the perfect combination of dntel and pantheon and old science magazines from 1978. marc arrived and we walked to some college cafeteria to eat with the swedes.
that night the evening bookstore crowd installed ourselves into the new "clubhouse" in the cellar, to sit with candles and cigarettes and a radio set to the excellent jazz station.

, sitting in the front row with all the canadians; afterwards an animated discussion about how david cronenburg is rad, canada is a superior country that produces filmmakers like david cronenburg, videodrome is the best movie ever besides requiem for a dream and was the whole movie after he puts the helmet on just a hallucination or not? and i think to myself, how can i ensure that i get a conversation with walker allen when i get back to richmond and remembering those couple of days where everyone rented all the old ones like scanners and such and watched them in alexi's room back on monument avenue and i fell asleep sometimes half way through them.

last night yvonne and andre and i found the indie rock club popin where some boys with guitars played bright bright music (andre saying, it is normale, i do not like) and on the way home the weather suddenly became a balmy ten degrees celcius as we walked along rue de temple looking halfheartedly for some other bar nearby to cafe philosophe and instead we find yannick who delivers pizzas on a moped for pizza hut and knows andre, they point at each other, stop and laugh heartily.
i say, hey, give us a pizza.
yannick says, you want pizza?
i say, yes. you got pizzas in there? i know you do. let us have one.
and he says, listen, you want pizza, i off work at minuit, i will bring to hotel de ville. à minuit.

but later at the hotel de ville he did not show up so instead we ran around on the ice skating rink taking pictures of ourselves until the men came with a big dog and said allez.

this morning, pancakes.
pancakes and coffee poured from a saucepan into yogurt glasses.
i love everything.

yours, amanda L. at 6:48:00 AM [+]

Wednesday, December 11


the magnetosphere. and the...magnetosphere. i have changed my mind. you may now buy me for christmas.

a boy named chris donaghue from montreal has arrived to the bookstore. he used to live across the street from godspeed you black emperor and is an expert on the aurora borealis. he has photocopied images of them that he carries around, showing that the lights above the north and south pole are always symmetrical, and owns a laptop that is 16 years old and still works.

yours, amanda L. at 5:53:00 AM [+]

Monday, December 9


report: today i found the lavarie LAVAMATIC.
i also found the jewish quarter of town, which is old and mysterious. and a handbag shaped like a watering can, which i feel is more exciting than the boys at the bookstore would admit to.

the things i have not told you about that are everpresent:
1. people playing acordians or clarinets on the metros for money.
2. the men that stand in doorways along the rue de huchette that entice you to come into their greek restraunts and they smash white plates onto the ground and end up with a big pile of broken plate.
3. many of us agree that the rue de huchette is the most disgusting, and for us, unavoidable street in paris. it is the umbilical cord between bookstore and metro saint michel.
4. the mopeds, oh the mopeds. everywhere.

the list of residents at the bookstore that i erased but will rewrite for you now:
1. czech petr does not speak english so well and is often drunk
2. polish peter introduced soup kitchens and free haircuts at the hospital to the bookstore. he makes his living doing medical studies in london. he is simutaneously a sort-of-satanist and a buddhist. this makes him ultra generous and always sharing everything but also talk offhandedly about shooting people with crossbows.
3. vera from barcelona talks nonstop about her creative process and will charge into the bookstore reading a poem in spanish aloud to herself and feverishly talking about how the tense of a word changes the whole poem and do we ever think about how when we send something away it is lost to us, at ten thirty when everyone is just waking up and rolling up sleeping bags.
4. tomas from slovakia is quiet and is the most attractive boy in the store and has an annoying american girlfriend who reminds me of maria snead.
5. john-mark from south carolina is dense and boring and mean and needlessly negative and self-conscious and rotten and i hate him. he is no good.
6. joel from NY also shares everything and is the funniest and has the most american accent and used to be a lawyer but is recovering from it.
7. jason from toronto is the most pretentious boy at the bookstore but also the person i like talking to the best. he is a writer. and he is a drinker. he carries notebooks around and once we argued about existance, he was saying that i had to make Stuff to exist, and i was saying no no no no no.
8. charlotte from holland who left today is tall and beautiful and an artist and has morbid sensibilities and once mutilated her school photograph before giving it to the yearbook people because she thought it looked too perfect. goes to all the manifestations and people are always giving her shit for free because she is just so pretty. czech petr can't remember her name and so calls her angel.
9. colleen who gets to stay upstairs and order us around. no one likes this. i scrubbed the floor again yesterday. for the third time.

yours, amanda L. at 6:30:00 PM [+]


it is monday. at the bookstore one never gets to sleep very late, because one's bed is in the middle of the library, and once the store is open the people come inside to speak in hushed tones and take pictures of themselves all day.
now: i am wandering around listening to they might be giants. i've discovered that it is impossible to listen to they might be giants without thinking about drew boyd. this is because until a few months ago they had been absent from my life since 1997. i am trying to introduce they might be giants to 2002, but it is slow going.
do you want to divide ourselves up between the people that would time travel to the future and the people that would time travel to the past?

so. it is today, and i am going to walk north-north-east today and check that direction out.
the bookstore is across the street from the kilometer zero marker. so we are in kilometer zero, the very middle of the city.
sunday afternoons at four there is a tea party in george's apartment. elderly writer types crowd into the front room and one of us girls is put to the task of brewing tea. tea is made by boiling a pot of water and then pouring it ontop of a mound of black tea piled into a sieve; the tea is collected in a pitcher beneath the sieve and then distributed into the little glass jars that used to hold yogurt but now serve as our cups. there are many, many of these little jars and they are all stained various shades of brown from the many, many tea parties they have endured over the years. you can't break them by dropping them, if you want to break one you have to throw it against a wall or out of the window.

last night i went and cooked dinner for 50 people at a church. there was a little speaker in the kitchen playing the sermon, just like at the synagogue kitchen. i cooked sugar in water to make a syrup like george does for our pancakes and it tasted awful, i was not sure how to do this in the first place but was pretending i did, so i searched the kitchen cupboards and began adding this and that; finally unearthed a jar labelled miel et noixettes and scooped out half the jar into the saucepan. then it tasted good but was watery. i mixed up some cornstarch in a little cold water, thinking, i am my mother's daughter, i know that you do not add cornstarch to something hot or it will clump, but then it didn't do anything and i was cross because i could not make syrup. and doesn't syrup come from trees? when the people got icecream later after their dinner no one touched it anyway.
during the dinner i sat next to an egyptian psychologist and talked about cairo and the left and right sides of the brain.
on the way back to shakespere i participated in the cheekiest metro-hop in history, climbing through the turnstile with mark but having to wait a few seconds for the metro worker standing in front of us to unlock his office door, which was to our left so he was sideways facing us and standing six inches away, we basically shoved past him and commenced walking nonchalantly to the train.

here is the subtlest way to hop the metro: you get a friend that has a ticket and after they put their ticket through you stand directly behind them and walk through before the rotating turnstile swings back up and blocks your path. if you do not have a friend with a ticket, you have to place both arms on each side of the entrance and heave your legs up over the turnstile and land them on the left side of the entrance, stand up partially and then sqeeze through the swinging door that stays closed if no ticket has been introduced, then jump down. i have witnessed middle-aged women performing this move and it makes me laugh.

we found (oh, my brother's egyptian wife has a friend whose cousin's brother owns this place off of the rue moufftard, i think) a shisha bar called èspace art com and drank cafe arabes with mark, mitch who is studying composition and philosophy and phil who once walked into the desert at the edge of eygpt for three days and while camping baked his own bread. when he met some tourists at a nature reserve after the three days they asked him where he came from and he pointed to a mountain in the distance and said, over there.

yours, amanda L. at 7:19:00 AM [+]

Sunday, December 8


a weekend built from a recipe of alcohol, music, cold weather, and riding the metro

1. i went to the concert and saw azure ray, the good life, and bright eyes. they were really just one large band and everyone seemed to be able to play all the instruments and did; they were drinking 1664s pulled from a plastic ED bag the entire time and occasionally after a song conor would say merci and the crowd would laugh at him. there were alot of estatic english-speaking indie rock kids there and everyone was very drunk and in high spirits. on the way back the metro stopped suddenly between the gard de nord and the gare de l'est with the lights dimmed and it stayed there for a long time.
2. later that night i walked to bastille where ballet mark was having a party. his apartment is about the size of muna's living room so it seemed crazy and lively but really we were all just squished together. at two or so a troop of artist squat kids arrived carrying electric guitars and a tiny portable amp and a dog with a headband around its neck; i said to joey, electric music is exactly what needs to happen to this party and he says, yeah this will be good. at four all the wine has run out and i nap on the floor awhile until the metro starts again because it is very very cold outside, and canadian emo mark lets me climb through the turnstile with him because he has a pass but mine is expired. he rides 1 which is a yellow line and i ride 4 with is a dark pink line.
3. i take an extra shower, a saturday shower, because i can. the water is hot.
4. i search everywhere for a coat with two zippers. i'm obsessed with this. canadian emo mark and i buy argyle socks to convert into fashionable arm warmers because it is even colder now and arm warmers are cool. since he knows french, i instruct him to walk into every womens clothing store we pass and ask the salesladies where i can buy a two zippered coat. he tells me to run up and say où tu l'as acheté to the next girl i see wearing one.
5. we go to a salsa party with kids from his anglican church. everyone brings a bottle with them and i have never seen a party with so much liquor, almost immediately they run out of mixers and so everyone drinks plastic cupfuls of straight whiskey and tequila while discussing what church they will go to tomorrow overtop of loud salsa music and it is insane. it is super fun. i get a salsa lesson and become terribly drunk and talk about religion next to the saint-michel metro, freezing to death even with armwarmers and causing canadian emo anglican mark to miss the last train so he has to walk home to wherever his home is.
when i go back all the doors are unlocked which makes me happy because i don't think i could have managed the stick.
6. a shower on sunday is essential because the showers close until thursdays. i am the cleanest girl in the bookstore, having two days in a row of shower.
7. we are supposed to get pancakes on sunday mornings in george's apartment but today at eleven he still hadn't made a move to collect us and there was no pancake aroma in the hallway so joel and i had eggs at cafe panis but we ordered them at the bar standing up just like our coffees because its cheaper that way. i walked across the river to look at things. buildings. neon signs.
i will be sad to leave when i do.

yours, amanda L. at 10:34:00 AM [+]

Wednesday, December 4


i am getting some sort of plague.
my throat has rather closed up.
this week we are eating famous soup for free.
we are experts at soup.
there are new girls at the store from north dakota.
i have internet again.
i am reading richard feynman.
i went to a conference and discovered this school.
this is where i will get my mfa.
i am going to the bookstore to curl up and sleep with kitty balanced on my hip.

yours, amanda L. at 9:52:00 AM [+]

Sunday, December 1


on friday nights, across the street from the bookstore, we go down to the steps to the seine and there is this band that plays, a mess of kids our age and horns of every sort and one banjo; they play gyspy music and the sort of music that makes us all howl and the saxophonist pushes his way through the crowd to grab the bottle of wine from my outstretched arm and take a long drink and spins around heading back down the steps, playing without pause; a boy in a red shirt with a trumpet falls to his knees and points the instrument at the sky and when andrea mark joey and i leave for a moment to go buy more wine we buy an extra bottle for the band and the man at the store opens all the bottles for us with his corkscrew and we eat cherries on the corner trying to remember how to tie the stems into knots with our tongues which is something i used to practice at the synagogue with walker allen over a piano

yours, amanda L. at 7:01:00 AM [+]

anda gail lewis 2005. stop crying every day.

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