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Notes on the Margin

I was procrastinating on a quiz site when I discovered this little…

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I was procrastinating on a quiz site when I discovered this little gem.  This must be Sophie’s Choice for certain of my friends:

17. The New Yorker is...

a. One of the most important magazines for writers of modern fiction and poetry
b. One of the most pretentious magazines for writers of modern fiction and poetry

 

But let’s instead consider procrastination via writing something else… a travelogue! 

I visited Paris, something chronicled best in the facebook pictures of the same.  I managed, par la grace de dieu, to attend class and catch my flight despite the wrenches thrown into my uncareful plan.  Once there, I spent time with two friends from high school as one of them hosted us in his Paris apartment.  Naturally, the damn place had a living room twice as big as my room and a view of the Eiffel Tower from his balcony.

Let me alter a long monologue about my travels before it gets more boring, for me if not for you.  At the present, I can barely stand recounting it again.  Paris is fantastic no matter how you slice it.  When you have a host who knows the lay of the land and a conception, however misbegotten, that dealing in euros is like Monopoly money, Paris is beyond comparison.  Ile de la Cite, the Louvre, excellent food, I had all these.  Yet I will just point out a telling anecdote before moving on.

One of the people I met through Ranjan was another NYU student. I cannot stress enough how much he resembled Jayne Cobb.  The good man looked like him, talked like him, and thought like him when it came to semi-drunkenly considering his relations with certain people and what he should be doing right now.

Jayne succeeded in completing my thought when I was considering whether we should go to the second-best falafel we could ever have in our lives (the first being closed for Shabat).  Once we were there, and enjoying the utter deliciousness that is Paris, our group of ten moved on the gelatteria… without me.  My two friends, who were the entire reason I came, missed me not at all.  Twenty minutes later, I found the group wandering through a nearby street.  Even after encountering them, the only sympathy I elicited was from Jayne and the two friends close to him (and offering him good advice to counter his Cobb-like tendencies).  The three of them cooed appropriately (well, not Jayne, but the two women) when listening to my tragic story of being left behind.  My two friends shrugged while apologizing for the mix-up.  I was less than mollified at their sangfroid, and it drove home the entire point: while meeting (and hanging with) their friends, life was good, but between the two of them I was an outsider.  They routinely finish each other’s sentences.  Attempts at clever rejoinders are no match for a twin from another mother.

So while recovering from a viral infection diagnosed by my British GP, I decided to attend the Brussels trip that the General Course programme had subsidized.  Considering that I had already paid, this was an even better decision.

I had a fantastic time.

We actually spent more time touring medieval Brugge than we did Brussels, capital of Belgium.  Brugge’s population peaked sometime in the fourteenth century, and since then the city has never grown.  It’s extremely disconcerting to be in a city which was perhaps the most populous in Christendom seven hundred years ago, but which now is a relic to former glories.  Tidal shifts and silting of its harbor implied bad things for the city, and Calvinist control of the Scheldt estuary sealed its fate.  Nevertheless, now it’s a tourist destination due to its unspoilt medieval heritage and excellent chocolate.

But to finish before I lose my inspiration (or rather, loosened tongue and lowered standards)…

I spent most of my time there in the company of three girls, one of whom I vaguely knew before.  Besides the time spent staring at Hieronymus Bosch triptychs, the most enjoyable time I had was with them.  We started with cavalier introductions halfway through barhopping, and ended the first night drunkenly pledging to hang out in the future.  Little did we expect that in the course of an exceptional dinner (both in terms of taste and cost), we would be getting along marvelously and spent the rest of the trip as a quartet.  The four of us went through late-night Brussels together, enjoying ourselves, buying drinks for each other, snapping photos that should never see the light of day, and stumbling our way back to the hotel.  It was six different shades of awesome. 

We made cracks about each other, one of them resulting in a still life of a table with an empty wine glass, lipstick, chocolate, and more.  Each of us was represented by an object; I ended up with the lipstick because they had convinced me the night previously to pose with a purse.  Damnably amusing.  Somehow we ended with a ferryboat confessional; on our way from Calais to Dover we opened up to one another and discussed various things that people in their early twenties find important.  Life is good.

  • yeah, this is why when you think people are your friends, they mostly aren't really. Unless you don't expect much, in which case if you're entertaining, the world is your oyster ;-)
  • Also, I identify with Bruges... I peaked in 11th grade and it's been more or less downhill--with a few plateaus--ever since...
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