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In the blink of an eye

On Tuesday afternoon I will board a plane for Paris, where I will attend a conference, sans famille. I will be gone for five days. Oh, you lucky creature! PARIS! Without your family! I am so envious! you cry. And I should feel that way, I admit, but I don’t. I feel scared and sad. Scared to leave my family during what feels like a dangerous time. Those of you who know where I live know I have some small reasons for extra anxiety about the State of the World.

SAD to be parted from my baby, despite the fact that she is a nine month old, with several teeth. But she is still a baby, and I hate, hate, hate to leave her.

As I’ve written before, if you like traveling, you can’t really understand the mind of She Who Hates Travel, just as She Who Hates Travel can’t really understand your mind, but I beg of you, please don’t tell me how much fun I will have and how weird it is that I am not looking forward to this. I am not, and being told I should be just makes me feel bad. I expect to enjoy the conference because it’s all my favorite people and topics, but there’s a wide gulf between arriving there and recovering from jetlag and entering into Professional Mode and feeling okay, and the wrenching myself out of my safe, cozy routine that is looming large on my horizon. I was explaining this to someone yesterday and asking her for a good mantra to help me with the departure part, and she suggested In the blink of an eye. You’ll be back again in the blink of an eye. So true. This trip is so tiny. Obviously in the sense of geological time–my week away matters not at all for the Arctic sea ice melting away, but even in the sense of my own brief life. In the blink of an eye, this will all be behind me.

So that is helping. I also remember when I wrote a similar post about having to go to Vancouver, and Misfit (miss you, Misfit…) suggested that I find one nice thing to do while I was there, so I made a plan for a massage and a trip to a fancy shoe store. And that helped so much. So! If you know Paris, help me find one small thing to do, as I’ll have a day to myself. I am not interested in museums, or THE SIGHTS, particularly, but love to wander around. Where should I wander?

15 Comments Post a comment
  1. (Note: I am having a hard time quelling my enthusiasm for travel, specifically travel to Paris. But I’ll do my best.)

    If you’re looking for lovely places to wander that are far from the maddening crowds, I would suggest the Canals of St. Martin or Ile St. Louis. The canals are lovely to sit along and watch the boats, bridges, and locks at work. Ile St. Louis is an island neighborhood that is nice to walk around. Grab a sorbet (or a brick of cheese) and pick up a scarf, and you’ll feel oh so Parisian.

    Should your interests be a tad more touristy and macabre, check out Pere Lachaise. It is a cemetery, but it is such a pretty one. I mean, where else can you check out the final resting places for Oscar Wild, Chopin, and Heloise & Abelard?

    July 14, 2016
    • Thank you for quelling, and oh, what a lovely picture! I think I can manage to eat sorbet and watch canals without self pity…

      July 14, 2016
  2. Do you like tea? Kuzmi Tea is one of our favorite brands, and they have two stores (one is nearish the Cluny Museum, which I would recommend if you were looking for museum recommendations, but you’re not, so I won’t) which are also little tea houses. So maybe take a good book and have an hour or two drinking posh tea and reading? And if shoe stores are your thing, there is an amazing street that has nothing but shoe stores; it’s the place where after nearly a decade of searching I finally found a pair of knee high boots that fit me like a glove. Rue Meslay, off the Republique station.

    I just got back on Tuesday from two weeks in Australia — really need to write up at least some of it! I’m one of those She Who Loves To Travel, and I also benefited greatly from two weeks not being a parent, so I had a delightful time, but I’ve talked to enough academic moms to know I’m in the minority. During the trip, I received an invitation to give a talk in a seminar series at Université Paris 1, and I picked the date in April 2017 during my term break, which is also Gwen’s term break, and am hoping to get Joel to take a few days off so we can travel en famille. We haven’t been to Paris since before she was born!

    July 14, 2016
    • I adore Kuzmi tea! Have been out of Prince Vladimir for a while now, so wonderful idea. Was also thinking of visiting a Mariage Fréres shop… And yes, street of shoes sounds about perfect.

      July 14, 2016
  3. sangela71 #

    I have not been to Paris, so I don’t have any tips for things to do or see, but I wanted to say — as someone who doesn’t mind traveling alone for work occasionally — that I can still understand why you would feel sad and scared about leaving your children. I hope you are able to work through those feelings and get some enjoyment out of your trip nonetheless.

    July 14, 2016
  4. Am hopeless on Paris, haven’t been since I was a student inter-railing. However! As someone whose family motto is (now) NEVER EVER GO ANYWHERE, NEVER A VENTURER BE I can empathise massively with the travel anxiety. Pre-Jay I committed to applying for funding to go to Helsinki, and then I felt obliged because other people were implicated to follow through, (added to which as long as I was with the other (lovely) people I felt a temporary rush of enthusiasm for the notion). So now, it looks like we might get the blessed funding and alas, etc, 3 nights away from home? I feel torn. Sorry for making it about me and My Fantastic Life, it was just to say I think your reaction is quite normal and YES. There’s no Should Enjoy; these are words that don’t go together. I should enjoy New Year’s Eve, but I don’t because my temperament does not allow me to. So yeah.

    In the blink of an eye, indeed, that is wonderful. Nothing lasts very long, does it, just five days, you can do it, and maybe even get into it a bit, see your peers and catch up on work talk. These things are good, too.

    Bon voyage, then, bunny. You will be back before you know it, feeling wonderfully relieved, no doubt.

    (Don’t suppose we host any decent events in your field eh? Boo, Ireland.)

    July 14, 2016
    • Oh! Helsinki! I had to turn down an invite to Finland last year because of BABIES, but I’ve always wanted to go. Which is not to say that if I get to I’d be happy about it…So yes, I hope you get the funding because that would be a good thing, even if it comes now with a sad and hard thing. Actually, I’m applying to a conference in Belfast next summer, and if I get in, I am insisting that we meet up (I will come to you, never fear…).

      July 15, 2016
  5. Jos #

    It’s well known, but beautiful… Luxembourg Gardens is one of my favorite places to wander there. It always seems like the flowers and the artwork and the people watching is amazing there. As thecommonostritch said, I’m having hard time quelling my enthusiasm *and jealousy* right now, but I do understand the anxiety of leaving the kids. I hope you find some moments of joy to make this trip worth it for you!

    July 14, 2016
  6. Steph #

    I understand how sad it is to leave all of the babies-while I have done it several times I don’t think it’s ever easy for me so I can relate to what you’re saying. “Blink of an eye” is so perfect for this situation. In channeling my own spirit of thought I’d suggest to you visiting some of the fabric shops in the Sentier area. Perhaps coming up with something lovely to make with some lovely fabric while sipping something equally delightful. Blink of an eye, friend.

    July 15, 2016
  7. Anon #

    The Montmartre neighborhood! I know it has a reputation as touristy, but I was wandering around there last week and was totally charmed. Here’s a helpful guide.

    Although you said you weren’t interested in museums, you should check out the Montmartre Museum ( ). Ignore the art and just stroll around in the lovely hidden courtyards, where you can look out over the rooftops and relax at a tiny café.

    July 15, 2016
  8. Anon #

    Oh, and if you’re interested in what is supposed to be an amazing fabric store (I know nothing about fabric/sewing, but I seem to recall that you are something of an expert) check out marché St Pierre — also in the Montmartre area.

    July 15, 2016
  9. Sympathies and solidarity from someone who also HAAAAATES to travel (possibly because everything feels so precariously balanced and maybe moving out of the routine will overbalance it and EVERYTHING WILL BE TERRIBLE). However! I’m sure it will, as you say, be over in the blink of an eye and things will not be terrible.

    There used to be this fantastic hole in the wall restaurant on Ile St. Louis, across from a mediocre restaurant with diamond-paned stained glass windows, but I don’t know if it’s still there and I can’t remember the name. Super helpful, no?

    July 15, 2016
  10. I hate travel, too. Anything more than 2 days (trips to DC) is a no-go.
    I hate leaving my kids and they hate being left.
    Travel is like work punishment, because it’s time away from work during which shit continues to pile on, so I am both exhausted and hopelessly backlogged when I come back.
    Overseas travel is the worst. I can’t fit comfortably, I have become a misanthrope, and the cost and bother are always much greater than benefit.

    On the upside: traveling less this year has done WONDERS for my group’s paper output.

    July 15, 2016
  11. Oh man. I read this yesterday and sympathized entirely because I feel the same about travel these days, especially the notion of traveling for work. But my own tension about your predicament just increased with recent events in France. Between your fine city (where I am hopefully predicting that nothing too bad will take place, though even that will do little to take away the underlying tensions) and the tensions that will no doubt be especially high in France right now, I predict it will be hard to avoid feeling some despair.

    I still have hopes, though. Paris is no ordinary town and just walking around should be a fairly awesome endeavor. And no matter what, it will be over in the blink of an eye – phew.

    And then you may just be forced to discuss all of these thing with moi! ha ha haaaaaaaa At least you will be secure at home with ALL the babies.

    July 15, 2016
  12. It’s Friday! You’ll be back very soon. I hope it was the blink of an eye, and that there are new shoes to boot (ha!).

    July 22, 2016

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