Paris Is Always a Good Idea

Except when you go to the airport a week early. Then, not so much.

A month ago, my second cousin’s wife (aka Lauren Hudson) took me to lunch after hearing about my diagnosis.

“You need to break some rules,” she said, reflecting on my tough 2016 and now cancer.

“I don’t break rules,” I explained, to then sheepishly add, “but several friends volunteered their services in acquiring medical marijuana and I might do it if things get rough.”

“That’s not breaking the rules,” she scoffed.img_6703-copy

“That’s breaking the LAW?” I replied.

“No, it needs to be bigger. Let me think.” So as I enjoyed my quinoa power bowl and ginger/tumeric fizzy drink, Lauren contemplated. “I’ve got it! You’re going with me to Paris.”

This was as ludicrous as either of us being the Texans quarterback solution. She went on.

“I’m going for the Maison & Objets market in January and you will be my assistant. I’ll get you credentials and arrange everything.” [Lauren is opening her Wells Designs showroom in Houston’s Decorative Center and was going to buy for the opening in mid-January.] “You can buy your cancer scarf,” she added.

Lauren’s real assistant forwarded my credentials for market that afternoon and just like that I was going to Paris. As Audrey Hepburn said, “Paris is always a good idea.”

Except when you go to the airport a week early. Which I did. Chemo brain is a real thing and for some reason I got it into my mind that my trip was a week earlier than scheduled. In a fog, I stocked the fridge with Snap Kitchen meals for the kids, arranged rides for appointments and practices, and wrote each child and Mark a card to find while I hurtled over the Atlantic on Air France. Not until my friend Ellen drove me to Bush Intercontinental Airport and inquired about my gate did I pull up my ticketing information and say, “Okay, so today is January 18th, right?” Wrong. So we looped around the airport and drove back to my house, where my suitcase remained packed until I put it into the trunk of mom’s car yesterday morning when we drove through flood waters back to Intercontinental’s Terminal D.

This makes no sense, me going. But at my weekly MD Anderson visit, doctors and medical practitioners seemed to think it was a great idea and wished me well. I left their office and went to the Barber Shop to get my hair did for the trip. After my buddy Ursula got laid off, the one stylist left for the 300,000 of us now gets a lunch break from 12:30 to 1:30 pm. During that hour, a band of patchy-haired cancer patients sat on the floor and swapped stories. By far, the most entertaining was Annette, who relocated to the Houston area from Lafayette, LA. Her gusto and accent marked her as a Cajun and the former hair stylist entertained us with her overflowing energy, in spite of the fact that she’s receiving two types of chemo for lung cancer that metasticized to her bones. WHAT?

fullsizerender-82“Yeah!” she said, bouncing like Tigger. “My doctor in Lafayette told me I had a month. But since I’ve been here, the tumors have shrunk in half.”

“What does your doctor here say?” I asked, meaning, how long did she had to live. Annette chirped, “He just smiles at me!”

When the solo stylist returned, Annette and I headed for the wig stash, along with a woman in a wheelchair accompanied by her daughter and husband. The chaos that ensued was bawdy fun. We tried on wigs of all shapes, sizes and colors, providing each other with E! News-worthy critiques along the way. Despite age and cancer stage discrepencies, we each ended up with the “Necie” wig, hugging and taking pictures before returning to our individual treatment plans. It was a beautiful moment of connecting disparate dots to create a picture of wholeness, if only for ten minutes.

Dots were the medium for American artist Roy Lichtenstein (1923-1997). Known as one of the first post-modern painters, he manually recomposed comic book images using Ben-day dots (circles placed close together to form an image). The humor of Lichtenstein contrasted with the heaviness of the Sixties and work of abstract expressionists such as Rothko, Pollack and de Kooning. His art didn’t come from a Freudian place of angst like that of abstract expressionists, but from pop culture, specifically D.C. Comics.

At first glance, one could assume that Lichtenstein cropped a page from the funny papers, enlarged it and signed his name when, in fact, he reproduced portions of the comics pages by:roy4

  1. Choosing an image
  2. Hand-sketching the image on paper
  3. Projecting the sketch onto a canvas
  4. Tracing the image onto the canvas
  5. Filling in the areas with stenciled dots in primary colors

Critics labeled Lichtenstein a plagiarist of others’ work and even the worst artist in the US” by LIFE magazine in 1964. But his estate got the last laugh when “Nurse” sold at auction for $95.4 million in 2015.

Despite seeing dots from sleep depravation after the overnight flight, Lauren and I soldiered to Hermes’ flagship store on La Rue du Faubourg-Saint-Honoré to get my cancer scarf, the alleged purpose of the trip. Chantal directed/choreographed the search, airing out then laying down practically every scarf in the case – nixing many based on color palette before I could get my fingers on them. In the end, the three of us picked out two winners. Walking back to our hotel, I spied a Lichtenstein in a gallery window and plan to see more of his dots tomorrow at the Pompidou. In keeping with the artist’s 1963 Crack!, “Now, my little ones, for France!”

For more information on Roy Lichtenstein, watch this short piece done by CBS News then watch him work in a ten-minute piece produced by the Tate Museum.

10 thoughts on “Paris Is Always a Good Idea

  1. Susan Kemmerer says:

    I’m glad to see you’re dressed in black for the “Parisian aesthetic” (Eliza approved?)…have a glass of French champagne and soak it ALL up. Can’t wait to hear about the trip via your astute lens and art aficionado perspective. Bon jour!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Berry says:

    Have your friend take a picture of you from behind jumping up and clicking your heels in mid air on the Champs Elysees in front of the Arc de Triumph in black and white. Would be perfect…hope you are excited.


  3. Mara J Van Nostrand says:

    I love this and love that you are in Paris!! Seize the day! (except the the part about you going to the airport a week early – that sounds like something I might do)


  4. Jay Stailey says:

    I think I might have texted you on your way to the airport the first time! How funny. I know I was out hunting for Janis in the flood the second time you went to the airport. Am picturing seeing you see Paris in some of the ways that Eliza saw Paris summer of 2015! Love you like a rock. Keep connecting those dots for us.


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