Occupy Other People’s Special Moments: Paris

Posted on November 21, 2011

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Whenever someone asks me if I’m writing a travel blog, I pause. Yes, I am… I travel, and I’ve been traveling a lot. But travel people read travel blogs for local history, weather patterns, tips and trivia… I’m a little short on those. I like stories and conversations. Luckily it works over here where friends are strangers and strangers are friends, but when I go home to friends that refuse to have conversations with me for fear of quoting, I’ll have to get a new angle.

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One of the big conversations this week had to do with Occupy Wall Street. I’ve been in Europe the entire time it’s been in existence. As a 22-year-old purposely unemployed person (at the moment), I don’t feel entitled whatsoever to an opinion on the policies, reform wants or opinions that started the movement. I’m going to remain blissfully ignorant to the grief and gripes for the few more months I can, and I’m probably going to keep disagreeing with the good guys vs. bad guys mentality I’ve been seeing in the coverage.

That said, Occupy Wall Street has managed to tick off every American backpacker I’ve talked to so far. Imagine having a conversation with someone from a far poorer country, a far worse off situation, a bigger fight to get wherever they are. Imagine they think “Oh my, everyone in the States living in tents… There are so many homeless people. Your country is really falling apart, right?”

And yes, homelessness in America is a huge issue, but you feel like a huge jerk when you have to explain, “No, most of them aren’t homeless – they’re just sleeping in tents while they protest the man.”

Here’s my honest #OWS opinion. When I hear Occupy Seattle is bankrupting the community college because the law can’t kick them off the land and maintenance fees are sky high, and when a friend Tweets “Move out of my way #OWS, I can’t get to my fruit vendor,” I question if the short-term damage is worth their intentions.

Also, the BBC coverage of a girl crossing a bridge who said, “I’m here because, like, it’s like an intellectual movement so I want to be a part of it” made me want to throw my coffee mug at the tv.

That said, maybe they’re doing what they intend. They’ve made it into this quirky little travel blog, right?

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Better conversation. Funniest I’d had in awhile. You know when that person somehow lands that hot person and you sit there at your desk, or awake at night, wondering how? And, somewhat conceitedly, you wonder why you’re still single?

The other night, a male hostel buddy: “I work at Microsoft. There is a guy who wears a Christmas sweater – you know, snowflakes – everyday of the year. This man has kids. He’s created life. Toddlers who wear Christmas sweaters in July. Did I miss a memo? What girl’s fetish was that?

We all giggled over our beers. An 18-year-old kid with braces and his first beer asked if we, 28-year-old girl hostel buddy and I, wanted to join his friends for a few drinks. I always try to be polite – the response that rolled off my tongue way too fast was, “Nah, I’m good.”

Today, a cute Parisian man whistled at me. I laughed really hard. I might have had my own Paris romance if I wasn’t face-deep in a sandwich when I heard that whistle.

Smooth.

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Today I set out to do some of a Paris checklist provided by family. I once again skipped the walking tour in exchange for hours of walking… Tomorrow’s post might be “Today I spent eight hours reading in the park next to my hostel.”

Started at the Opera… Les Halles… Down Rue de Archives… Hôtel de Ville.

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That last one I’ve been challenged visit and then write another fountain poem. It’ll happen. It’s really hard to write a fountain poem about a fountain with no water. My first instinct was to write about a sad little fountain – all cried out, dried out… But I don’t want to write that poem.

I’ll get there.

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I still love bridges. What I really love is the following photo. It’s not perfect, it’s not framed like I’d prefer…

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It’s just a photo of a photo of a photo!

There was no zoom used there. I took that picture openly. I had no shame in stalking that one.

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I was leaving Notre Dame when I overheard a few Americans talking. We all got speaking and exchanged taking pictures of each other. I told them about my past three months, to cries of “Alone! and “You don’t speak French, how do you manage?” Oh, there have been harder places. Hungarian is the sixth hardest language in the world to learn. There’s your travel fact for the day.

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They took this picture of me, and as we were parting, the woman asked if she could pray for me. I said of course, thinking that’s nice of her.

She took my arm, and on the bridge outside Notre Dame, she gave a loud, on-the-spot two minute appeal to the Lord. For a moment, I was stunned it was happening.

But then, as it became directly tailored to my trip, to the enemies I need protection from, the strangers – who I should and shouldn’t trust, the beauty this world has to offer, the protection to be coupled with bravery…

You know, it gave me a warm and fuzzy feeling. Kinda like Nounou’s cake a couple weeks ago. Someone looking out.

When we said goodbye, she said, “It was nice to meet you. It wasn’t an accident!”

I spent the rest of the day stalking other people’s love and moments. Sometimes I like the pictures and think the couple in them would, but you can’t start that conversation.

Hey, I’ve got a bundle of time, so I’ve been watching you guys for fifteen minutes just hoping you’d kiss or hold hands or something… Good job, by the way…

So, anonymous, for you all.

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Not a bad day two in Paris.

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