jeudi 23 juillet 2009

I can be thin forever

Sam's dragonfly, or luciole, photo
June 30, 2009

Could it be that gluten, sugar and lactose (a sugar, yes, I know) make your brain function better?

The end of my brain function and my blogging activity associates quite nicely with my telling myself I can be thin forever and the consequent adieu to breads, dairy and refined sugars, and my brain starting to feel a pressure and a blankness I can't quite describe. Or, is it really to do with my fear of failure? Not about changing my eating habits -- that's going quite well and is surprisingly easy so long as I do eat, which I do, regularly --, but about making design decisions here that will prove once and for all that I am nulle and utterly lacking in real creative talent. (Trust me, it is very scary.)

And maybe a little fear of spending the money needed to realize my induction into the Hall of Failure.

Maybe my little bit of perfectionism and its associated tendency to overdo?

Yesterday, I was taken to the warehouses and offices of Weinerberger brick in Monthléry, south of Paris. Georges informed me the other day that he needed the thin brick for the chimney so that he could take the scaffolding down from the courtyard side of the house and get the entry courtyard work going. This also meant that I'd have to get serious about picking the brick for the paving, which had been something of an issue with my associate, otherwise known as mon mari.

Georges, to be clear, is not my husband; he runs the work on the renovations.

"Mais, pourquoi tu ne veux pas mettre des pavés de Paris? Ils sont beau," said my husband. I don't disagree. I know that Paris paving stones made of granite are nice. I know, also, that they are easy to find and install. I just didn't see them with this house, here. And like Louis Benech, I like brick on the ground. However, these are not objective grounds for decision-making. They are sort of whiney, "but I like it" grounds that can be elevated to the standing of You see, pavés de Paris are sort of gray and cold, and I see something more luminous and warm with the ochre of the house. Also, they establish a more rapid rhythm, without direction, a different textured mineral carpeting underfoot. In truth, they'd be just fine, another option is all.

"Tu vois, les pavés de Paris sont un peu gris et froid et je vois quelque chose de plus lumineux, chalereux avec l'ochre de la chaux de la maison. Aussi, ils établissent un rhythm rapide, sans direction, une autre texture pour ce tapis minéral sous les pieds." A vrai dire, ils seraient très bien aussi, juste une autre option. He nodded, a little too dubious to please me. I started to feel insecure again.

What if I am wrong? I live in dread. Dread. The sort that makes you dream just before waking about your son's résponsable de niveau and his choice to stay in ES at his present school, despite everyone's recommendations otherwise. It's his life, right?

Things are great.

I approached Georges in the garden the day before yesterday and informed him that I was taking his request for information seriously.

"J'ai rendez-vous avec le type pour la brique demain matin. Je l'aurais choisie pour l'après-midi." He looked relieved.

I grabbed my motorcyle gear and headed down to leave for my 10 am appointment outside the cinéma at the shopping mall, Parly 2, in Versailles. I was already sweating as the temperatures were heading up into the 30's again (this is Europe, we use Celsius, remember?). I pulled the huge rolling gate open and stuck the key into the ignition to release the direction. The sun was shining directly onto the instrument panel, but did I see no indicator lights? No. No no no. I pulled the bike out over the tall grass, weeds and concrete threshhold, and hopped on, sweating freely now after my exertion. It might be best to check before I closed the gate again. I hit the starter.


Not one tiny sound. The battery was as dead as a doornail.

Audouin! Tu m'as refait le coup!, I howled to the skies, climbing back off and pushing it back through the tall grass, over the threshhold and the weeds and grass on the garden side. He moved my bike on Sunday, leaving the ignition in the position that leaves the The kickstand wouldn't go down. I didn't have the right angle. Another bead of sweat trickled down from my unwashed hair under my helmet. I hadn't counted on being that hot, but there was no time to think about remedying my appearance. I was late, and if there was any non-vacation morning traffic on the drive to Versailles, I was really in trouble. I moved the bike to where the kickstand would take, retrieved my stuff from the rear case and headed up to stow my helmet, change my boots for sneakers and exchange the motorcycle keys for the car keys.

No workers. Still. I had waited, hoping to see them before I left, and stuck a note finally on the cement mixer. It hadn't fallen to the ground.

Mr. Becquart was looking a little hot around the collar and out of patience when I pulled in to the space one car over from him at Parly 2.

"Monsieur Becquart?" He nodded. "Vous avez reçu mes messages, j'espère?" He nodded and inclined his head toward the seat next to him. I climbed in, feeling the tiniest bit like a fraud. He was taking an architect to see their facilities and choose brick. Architects have offices and do lots of lucrative (for their suppliers) projects. So, I was playing a little lose with the truth.

"Alors, vous êtes architecte. Vous avez un cabinet à Mantes?" He didn't lose time. It would be necessary to obfuscate. Just a little.

"Je fais des petits projets. Mon but serait d'en faire plus et surtout dans la rénovation résidentielle." There, that said everything, and nothing. We talked the state of architecture and the building trades in my two countries, I being sure to get in as much detail from my professional experience as I could, all the way to Monthléry, where he introduced me to his supériere -- Vous avez déjà utilisé la brique apparente dans vos projets? he had asked hopefully, but rather doubting a positive reply; Oui! Beaucoup, I was able to tell him, perfectly truthfully, Mais pour la plupart aux Etats-Unis --, where I chose my brick, and then we talked family and terroir, the French sense of place and of the land and home, all the way back. I was feeling like an architect again by the time I got back into my car. It lasted until my husband arrived.

"Alors, as-tu trouvé la brique," he asked, leaning on the sample box.

"Oui, c'est là, sous tes mains." He opened the box.

"C'est combien?" He didn't lose much time either.

"Je ne sais pas. Pas beaucoup. La brique n'est pas très cher." That was like putting a bandaid on a limb amputation.

"Il faut le savoir. Si on le met comme ça, sur le champ, ça coutera plus cher car il en faudra plus. Il faut savoir."

"Mais, ça ne fait aucun sense. C'est toi qui voulais une brique moins large car tu préfères l'aspet, mais si on ne la pose sur le champ, ce n'est même pas la peine de se faire des soucis entre une brique à 65 mm et une brique à 50 mm, ce que tu m'as dit que tu préfères nettement. En plus, il y a eu une brique que j'ai beaucoup aimé, mais je ne l'ai pas choisi car elle ne vienne qu'en 65 mm!" It's true. The brick I thought I'd love only came in 65 mm, which Audouin said he didn't like when we looked at the catalog together the evening before my architect brick expedition. He had gone so far as to eliminate any he liked if they weren't available in the narrower dimension, and Monsieur Becquart had been of the same opinion. The fill spaces for the brick are narrow, and the wider brick might not complement the scale of the space.

"Oui, mais c'est une question d'argent. Il faut le savoir et puis décider." I suddenly felt even more exhausted than when I walked in the door from Monthléry. What, I asked myself, is the point? The answer came then. The point is give him the information, and he will bend as the willow to your will.

That is when he will feel empowered to let me decide.

"Ou, peut-être on peut les couper en deux..."
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