Diary, Experience, Work / Life

Back with less than what I left with

A month pretending I’m two places simultaneously. And pretending is more true than either/or. The double-ness of being abroad forced a space/time elucidation of where I am and what I’m doing — a precision of role-distinction, excising tertiary duties, clarifying… the need for further clarification (in work, life, studies, etc ad infinitum).

A month of non-refreshing, not necessarily inspiring, intermittently productive self-exaction. Action, pared down to its minimal, most naked machinations — action stripped of extraneous exertions (i.e. the kind that shred each workday into countless unmanageable slivers of half-done obligations).

A month that didn’t obviate any particular/specific future action points. But instead, cleaned out a semi-significant fraction of the [things] that impede forward movement.

I have no imminent aspirations (at least not born of my month in Paris), but I now have a bit of room for aspirations to begin fomenting and manifesting themselves.

I’m back with less than what I left with, and that’s success enough.

Diary, Verse, Work / Life

Readily Unprepared

Less than 6 hours til our taxi takes us to Charles de Gaulle Airport. Our flight leaves at 11am for Toronto.

At the Used Book Café on Boulevard Beaumarchais.

At the Used Book Café on Boulevard Beaumarchais.

Anxiousness has ceded to readiness. (Although readiness ≠ preparedness.)
I’m ready for home.
I’m not prepared to be back (there).
Paris is shoving me westward; Indianapolis is tugging me to South Broad Ripple.
At 10pm, I’ll be in Indy (4am, Paris time).
I am unthinkingly ready.
I’m readily unprepared.
Being places is always foreign.
Home is where the habit is.

Experience, Fashion, News, Pattern, Tech, Work / Life

Posts From Indy

◙ On Monday, Erika Smith wrote an Indy Star column in response to (the response to) that Worst Dressed City “study” by Movoto: “Benjamin and Janneane Blevins were in one of the most fashionable cities in the world when they got the bad news about their hometown of Indianapolis… But the truth is, fashion is becoming a serious business in Indianapolis — especially for a growing number of young professionals such as the Blevins. The couple, heavy into business, technology and urban issues, helped found the local fashion magazine, Pattern. They’re currently in Paris — the one in France, not Illinois — on a fashion-fact-finding mission.”

“When I first heard about the list, I was pretty ambivalent,” Benjamin wrote. “We’re not known for anything regarding fashion — and that includes being known for so-called bad fashion.”

“We aren’t interested in getting a Gucci next to every Starbucks or a Versace inside each Downtown hotel lobby,” Benjamin said. “… Pattern wants local designers to be able to sustain their businesses and build viable, long-term brands. We don’t want everyone to suddenly start sporting Luxe fur coats or (name your exotic animal)-skinned boots.”

“We believe that fashion can help Indianapolis in a way that benefits the city aesthetically and economically. And we believe that the combination of those two is a potent force.”

So, should we compete with Chicago or NY or LA? No. Should we shrug, and sit around competing with our past? No. We’re trying to see what’s next – and the horizon is full of opportunities for homegrown upstarts like Indy to beat Chicago and the Coasts to the punch. (What that “punch” is, I’m not sure. But it’s on tip of everyone’s tongue, and it’s coming faster than ever.)

◙ Tuesday’s We Are City [BRIEFING] had a lovely bit about our stay in Paris as temporary Hoosier expats: Retrouver Paris! “Hoosiers Janneane and Benjamin Blevins, who have their hands in some of Indy’s coolest orgs and businesses including PATTERNIndyHubIndySpectator, and KA+A, are living in Paris for a month and proving it with a blog.”

“And while they live and work, they’re taking an amateur urbanist’s eye to it all.”

We Are City“As we meander through Paris’ coworking spaces, fashion incubators, tech accelerators and universities, we hope to bring back a few new tools that may help us to better be a part of guiding and participating in Indy’s urban growth,” write the Blevins on their about page. / tag: Paris / MH

Subscribe to We Are City’s biweekly [BRIEFING] here. And be sure to keep your eye on this month’s [IMPORT] (Oliver Blank) and last month’s (James Reeves) and their Bureau of Manufactured History project.

Cafe, Work / Life

Space and Place

I’m ready to go home. I’ve seen it, done it, ate it, tried it. Well, not quite everything. But I’ve hit a threshold – be that sickness for home, or the onset of the ordinary.

Le thé mélange du loir at Le Loir dans la Théière.

Le thé mélange du loir at Le Loir dans la Théière.

Perhaps its the combination of a cold, a poor night’s sleep, the persistent chilly weather, the advent of the third leg of our journey with a new set of guests and new set of rules, but all I can think is of home and the known. My body drags through the street, as Ben deciphers the pharmacie to find a decongestant, then whisks me away to my favorite spot, Le Loir dans la Théière, for tea, chocolat chaud, and a pastry (or two). My spirits are lifting, but when we arrive home to dive into our work day, the internet is down and then the nearby café’s wifi is inaccessible. My worst dreads officially came true. The magic of Paris has dissipated – I just want to be home.

I share this for posterity–as grand as our trip has been and will be, there are inescapable dull and dreary moments. And there will be things we’ll want to change and improve for the next time. I think though, we’re just in the lull. Our trip to Paris is long enough that it’s not a vacation, but short enough that we can’t establish permanence. There’s a tug-o-war to keep up with the urgency to see and try things because the opportunity is limited, to turn our attention to work, and to pause to rest.

Continue reading

Diary, Work / Life

a Ramble through St-Germain

18:28. 43° and raining in a café in Le Marais, sipping espresso slowly as Janneane reads about Diana Vreeland and nurses a sore-throat-soothing grog au rhum (like a honey-less hot toddy).

Yesterday, we walked past the magnificently exoskeleton-ed Pompidou, across the rue Rivoli and the Seine, and down to Saint-Germain. Though little remains of Saint Laurent’s Rive Gauche and the Lost Generation‘s* (footnotes at end) literary conclave, the tangled sidestreets and multi-named (and multi-directional) allweyways still feel a bit like the worlds that Yves designed for and the 20’s expats wrote about (and in).

In Saint-Germain, outside the (4-star/luxury) hotel where Oscar Wilde died, remarking “I am dying beyond my means.”

We try to wander slowly, perceptively. But the ease of instant mobile-GPS mapping makes accidental discoveries feel purposeful. Still, we’re able to happen upon unmapped libraires & boulangeries (while simultaneously making sure we turn right on Rue des Beaux-Arts to stare at L’Hôtel, where Oscar Wilde succumbed to cerebral meningitis in 1900).

After a few espressos & pomme chaussons, we find Rue de l’Odéon and its tightly tucked-away Shakespeare and Company book… place (I hesitate to call it a bookstore because although buying is the point, you’re supposed to pretend that you’re in a 1920’s salon – sitting with Sylvia Beach, waiting for Joyce to hobble his crumbling figure through the tiny entryway and listen to his unintelligible reading of an unexpurgated passage from Ulysses). I still bought books**. And I said yes when the cashier asked if I’d like the tourist-baiting Shakespeare & Co stamp inside the front cover of my purchase. Continue reading

Diary, Work / Life

at the Café du Marché

23:48. 41° at the Café du Marché. Windy outside, hiding beneath an ineffective space-heater.

Today, I bought Gauloises at a tabac on rue de Bretagne. Like fancy-named Camel Lights. And fancy tastes better.

The combination of over-stimulation and lack of comprehensive information can be a bit immobilising, writing-wise. Which is a poor argument for not writing…

Yesterday, we lunched at Bob’s Kitchen, a juice bar and haven for vegan/gluten-free food-lovers. Afterwards, we walked to Colette and picked up A Magazine Curated by Stephen Jones (then, in the checkout line, I inexplicably needed to purchase a kitschy limited-edition Marc Jacobs Coca-Cola Light bottle).

Janneane, via @ballarde instagramToday, I walked along the Canal St-Martin with Janneane in the (all-too-rare) sunlight, sipping drinks on the water-side benches, eating our pain au chocolat pastries from Du Pain et Des Idées, taking photographs and laughing at nothing/everything. As the afternoon wind and clouds began to creep in, we ambled back to the Marais, arriving home in time for the workday to start (the six-hour time difference is still off-putting). Spent the evening getting an IndySpectator article and an IndyHub enews ready to send.

I’ve been trying to write for this blog (so: ostensibly, more for others and less for myself; more lucid & practical and less verse-ish). Thus far, I haven’t been super successful…

I’ve been maintaining my newspaper archival, buying copies of Libération and scavenging Le Monde & Le Figaro discards from café tables and trash cans.

I carry my Canon T2i with me everywhere, taking snapshots compulsively – mostly of political posters and graffiti and instagram-able prettiness and/or grittiness. Continue reading

Fashion, Pattern, Work / Life

Monstres de Mode

Character design by Craig Green

Character design by Craig Green

After stumbling upon a good tip in Unlock Paris, we popped into La Gaîté Lyrique today to check out their new fashion exhibit, ARRRGH! Monstres de Mode. A showcase of the “strange, unusual, extraordinary, bizarre, eccentric, slaves to every new paradox, supernatural, disgusting, dirty, wonderful or ridiculous.” We were inspired by so many things: the clothes, the space, the learning center.

“ARRRRGH!” the cry of surprise, fear and worry and also of inner concern, that urges to escape but fails to do so.

La Gaîté Lyrique is a cultural center in the 3rd arrondissement, celebrating the inter-disciplinary, digital culture (film-making, animation, theatre, dance, circus, music, visual arts, design, architecture, web, games, fashion, etc) and exploring the new dimension being created by art and technology. Their learning center is free to the public, and drop-dead gorgeous. Sleek, modern booths encase video screens and gaming consoles. Walls are lined with wired work stations. Common tables splay across the center, surrounded by a fort of magazines, books and media. All in the spirit of knowledge sharing. Exhibits, performances, workshops and programs spring forth from the cultural center creating a relationship that is “inspired by internet culture, is generous and spontaneous: interaction, participation, games and networking…“.  Continue reading