Sunday, July 6, 2014

Getting Closer to Being Ready for Paris

I'm a little closer to being ready to leave for Paris now:  I finally purchased my plane tickets.  I have for the most part always flown economy class, which is generally okay, being a part of the big crowd of budget travelers -- we all go to the same place, right?  But this time I decided that it's worth a few hundred dollars more to at least upgrade my seat to the "economy comfort seats," or some words to that effect.  So for my one long domestic flight and my two international flights, I have upgraded to more seat room and silly perks such as ear plugs, a sleep mask, I think a video screen right at my seat, probably a slightly upgraded meal, which I almost never take anyway because I'm vegetarian and almost always buy my meals before I board,  and unlimited alcoholic drinks.  Being a very, very lightweight drinker, however, I'm afraid I'll have to pass on that one; wish I could have a bit of a discount for not drinking, though.  Well, I'll  have one tiny glass of wine, though.  It's not that I don't like alcohol; my body doesn't like it, and I become ill after more than one drink. 

Back to the tickets:  I'll be sure and report how these comfortable economy seats work out and if they're worth the few hundred dollars more.  Most likely, though, anything that gives me more room to stretch out on long flights is worth it to me.  And maybe I'll actually have wider armrests, too.  That would be really great because for some reason, I almost never get "armrest rights" when I fly.  Too timid, I'm afraid.

Regarding artwork while in France, as I've mentioned before, I intend to paint while I'm there.  As I don't intend to have a checked bag on my flight over, I am taking only a few brushes and some prepared but unstretched canvases.  There's a really nice art supply shop just about a five minutes' walk from my apartment there, so I'll go there and buy my paints.  I intend to use acrylics only to ensure that everything has dried well before time to return.  If I want to add some oil highlights later, after I return here, that will be easy to do, of course.

I've been attending an advanced conversation group once a week here in Portland, and it concerns me a bit.  I realize just how not-fluent I am in French.  I struggle on as I try to engage in quite deep conversations at times, but from the often bewildered expressions on the faces of my "interlocuteurs," I fear that I'm not quite communicating as well as I had hoped.  We'll see . . . . .

My greatest fear (after the fear of not getting lost on my way to my apartment from the airport, of course) is that I will "hole up" in my apartment when I arrive, something which I have a tendency to do when faced with potentially frightening situations.  But fortunately, there will be no food in the apartment, so I'll be forced to go out at least for some wonderful bread, pastries (bien sur!!), and some essential groceries.  I'm going to do everything in my power to force myself - again - out of my safe zone and go out and explore -- tentatively, of course, at first, but with more confidence as each day passes.

I still have several custom paintings that I need to get done within the next few weeks, and then I'll have more time to spend on getting ready for the trip.  As it's been such a long time since I was last in France, I have a lot of things I'll need to catch up on, such as how my smartphone is going to serve me there, how to be able to charge all my electronics, which, of course, are now an essential part of every person's life, how to ensure that my debit card works well everywhere (and, of course, how to avoid exorbitant fees for its use).  I remember when I was in Denmark a couple of years ago, I was able to use my debit card everywhere, for everything from cash to groceries to parking "meters," without a problem and with little to no added fees.  I presume it will be the same in France, but I'll check beforehand to be sure.  Just lots of little details I need to cover before I leave.