All That Jazz: Inside the Mind of an Artist

I’ve heard it often enough: “Apryl, I don’t understand the way you think.” Silly me, as a weak-minded individual, I used to think that this was a derogatory statement. That it was intended as a derisive—or is that divisive—same difference in the long run. Now that my mind is stronger, I am intent on bridging the gap, and offering to share my window on the world to those who would accept it.


When we’re willing to mutually present our views, and equally to accept another’s, our worlds aren’t separated, but expanded. Both worlds are enlarged. Multiply this by the worlds in which we revolve around others’, and our universe of experience is multiplied infinitesimally. The wonders never cease!


So, we’d best start the glimpse at my little world in front of my MacBook: the original keyboard lacks full capacity, due to some overzealous cleaning on my part, and the whole works have been crashing inexplicably for the last month. It’s one of my windows on the world, so I patiently power down, make another cup of tea, and get back to my interpersonal communications.


My current priority is organizing my facts and sources for the TV program, “The Generations Project.” The interview questions have helped me to realize how deep is the insatiable curiosity over my family chronicles. Haven’t you experienced that undying quest for understanding in some mysterious realm of your life? I’m so used to it, that I don’t even recognize its intensity. How did someone discover that oysters are edible? Why does my dog like to roll in…ugh, why do so many things make so little sense in this world?


With few responsibilities this month, I am suddenly free to devote 24 hours per day to intellectual hide and seek. I suppose that I’m equally free for clubbing and inebriation, but somehow that doesn’t appeal. With that in mind, how can I possibly decide what to do with my time?


I assembled these unrelated elements: a friend recommended that I read Julia Child’s My Life in France, the budget is busted and I’m low on cash, and I’m still grieving that I missed the Matisse expo opening due to kids’ camp fatigue. Put them all together and what do you get? Two hours in Aix.


A scooter is the only way to fly! My 2003 Suzuki Burgman 125cc is nearing 20,000 km, and still doesn’t complain when I want to be standing in centre ville within 10 minutes. I passed a 45kph tourist who was daunted by the curves on the D-10 then would speed up to 90 on the straights, rolled to the front of the queue for 2 red lights and a construction hold up, and then parked at the top of Cours Mirabeau before those Parisians even decided which parking garage to navigate. I needed the walk, so I took the stroll on the shady side, past ‹‹la Rotunde›› the fountain, to ‹‹la Rotunde›› la broccante.


Locals know about it, and the students find out about it soon enough. Either way, it’s the Aladdin’s cave of one person’s junk and another’s treasure. July and August are the magical months, as moving house means clearing out and making way for the new. That’s when all of the best tempations turn up.


(If you’re moving out, rest assured, the staff is trustworthy. They are experts at identifying the gold from the dross, and will compensate you accordingly. If you’re looking for the most remarkable one-off antique, you’ll easily be satisfied here.)


Turn left leaving the tourist office, and head down the left side of avenue des Belges.  They're between a trustworthy photo shop (that does USA-passport photos) and the Eurodif shoddy goods department store.

And they rent bikes, so check them out if you want to AIXcape from town!  


With the recent exchange of goods in hand, my beloved serenity-killing Black Forest cuckoo clock had been transformed into dosh destined for Book-in-Bar. Granted, changed how I pine for English-language books, but the traditional bookshop is a noble element in a land of postal strikes and the occasional loud-mouthed xenophobe. Want a cup of tea and a brownie while you aid a francophone in his pronunciation of the elusive th? Looking for the latest guide on how-to-[blank]-like-a-Frenchman? Care to interrogate the staff on the best possible summer read? For the best service, just mention the name of your favorite International student. Their proximity to Collège Mignet facilitates an AIXtraordinary AIXpansion of worlds for everyone who’s involved. I love this place, and I love that it’s a hangout for my girls and our friends!


My Life in France now on reserve, I crossed the Cours to the Municipal Gallery. Funded by the State of Bouches-de-Rhône (13), the expos run for 3 months, and generally alternate between a famous artist and a conceptual theme. From what I’d been told, ‹‹Matisse, Jazz et autres éditions›› was, ‘nice,’ and ‘all right.’ I’d accepted this lack of enthusiasm as a case to hesitate making a visit. Well, to each his own! What I saw was an eloquent display of human expression. (It makes me wonder that if I’ve got some things I need to say, how will I best express myself? And how much will it hurt when these exclamations aren’t received with joy?) Ah, well, it’s to my benefit that I’m fluent in French enough to learn from the video montages. Perhaps that’s why he was disappointed.


Armed with a stack of fresh brochures from the tourist office, and equipped with fresh training in communication courtesy of monsieur Matisse, it’s now up to me to translate my allez-retour into a form that will motivate you to AIXplore your own part of the world, and show me how we can be AIXcited about it!



I came home and made Zucanoes for lunch: scooped out a courgette, sprinkled it with salt, while I cooked brown rice, browned slivered almonds, crushed garlic and the chopped zucchini innards; stirred in chopped tomato, parsley, Feta, paprika, chili and black pepper, and the cooked rice; baked it at 180°C (350°F) for 30 minutes while I cleaned the kitchen and tried to write down everything that was in my head. Next on the agenda is a mortal struggle of the soul to decide if I should swim, faire le sieste, create colorful expressions in the style of Matisse, or type this into a blog for you.


But excuse me, I have to say that now that Greece is part of the EC, it’s sadly disappointing that Danish-made Feta now must be renamed “Slice of Cheese.” That’s just silly.


Both dogs are reposed in blissful abandon on either side of me, and the hammocks are the closest available option, so perhaps I’ll respect the serendipitous alignment for a moment…



[More AIXcursions here]


[Other attempts at self-definition here]



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