Feb. 18th, 2005

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This morning I went for my first outdoor run of 2005, and my first run in Paris. I chose to run along the canal that goes through my neighbourhood, the Canal St. Martin. Just at the rue du Faubourg du Temple (my street) the canal goes underground, so if I ran one way, I would be running alongside the water, and the other way, along some park. Unfortunately, the water way is paved with uneven cobblestones, so today I went along the park.

As I was running, I came upon a street market that was just getting itself set up: plants, flowers, fruit, meat, fish – everything the typical Parisian could want. They were right in my path, so I had to weave and dodge around the stalls and the piles of goods and the people stocking the stalls. It was very cool, in a Sidney-Bristow-evades-the-enemy kind of way!

Not too many people were out and about at 7 this morning, so that was another little bonus. Normally the streets are so crowded when I go places (because I’m always traveling in rush hour: 8-9 and 5-7), so it was very pleasant to have some space around me. There were a few people out with their dogs (as always!), and a few people also running – but they were chasing the bus. I did see one other runner as I was walking back to the apartment. I did go up along the water end of the canal (with the cobblestones) as part of my cool-down walk, and there was a girl running along the cement edge of the canal. It’s about two feet wide, so I suppose I could try that myself, but also being myself, I think I can pretty confidently say that’s one of the fastest ways I could devise to end up soaking wet, surpassed only by actually jumping right in to the canal.

Today I will be entering the actual, true Bibliothèque Nationale: I’m going into the imposing building on the rue de Richelieu to do research in the “Arts et Spectacles” library. Yesterday I ordered a huge pile of scores and spent the day comparing two version of my opera, until I realized I would soon run out of time and I could buy a microfilm of the version I don’t have for only 46 euros. Then I leafed quickly through my remaining scores, jumped onto the microfilm machine (the librarians let me load it myself now, lucky me!) and thought briefly about ordering up an autograph manuscript by Campra. But since it, too, was available on microfilm and I’d had bad luck yesterday getting originals instead of microfilms (they had all the aggressive librarians staffing the request desk yesterday), I decided I wouldn’t. Perhaps if there is some time next week, I’ll go back.

The librarian who worked yesterday afternoon was in fact the first librarian I’ve seen here in Paris who spent most of her time away from the desk. This was much to the irritation of her colleagues, who had to keep gesturing helplessly to people who came to offer their request slips up in the hopes that they would be rewarded with access to what they wanted. Then when she came back, there was much heated whispering over whether certain parts of the collection were “absolument incommunicable” or available only “en bobine.” I have noticed a certain tendency among French people to continue to argue a point past where I would attempt to argue, and I can’t say that I have noticed that it gets them any particular results – except perhaps irritation from the other party. Of course French, which we tend to think of as a romantic and beautiful language, is actually quite suited to heated discussions – or at least it seems from what I have observed.

A bientôt!

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