Went to the secondhand book market today. I bought three books, and I'm a big fan of the vendor, because he continued to speak to me in French even after learning that I was American. In fact, everybody who spoke to me today spoke in French--except at the cafe! But this particular cafe had chai tea, so I will forgive them.
Today I also experienced a more universal conundrum: that of the woman traveling alone. As much as I would like to jump into any and all situations wholeheartedly, patriarchy prevents me from doing so; there will always be a voice in my head shouting "TRUST NO ONE!" when I am approached by strangers. I was sitting along the banks of the Garonne, reading a book and minding my own business, when a man on his bike stopped next to me. I thought he was going to try to sell me cigarettes, since that seems to happen a lot here. Instead he started asking questions about me, and asked if I wanted to chat for a while and get to know each other. Perhaps he was legitimately trying to be friendly, but I wasn't comfortable giving him the benefit of the doubt. I knew it was more likely that he wanted something else--money or sex, or even just to assert his power by demanding my attention. He didn't say or do anything inappropriate (except interrupting me), but I still had to repeat several times that I preferred to read. It's a shame; in an alternate universe where nobody has ulterior motives, it would have been nice to have someone to talk to.
I'll be facing a related problem tomorrow: there's a folk concert I'd like to attend (Zoe Boekbinder), but it's at night. There's a bus that runs late that does stop near my apartment, and the nearest metro stop from my apartment is a 10-minute walk away. I'm wondering whether it's safer to try figure out where the hell the nearest bus stop is to the concert (it doesn't look very close on the map, and the streets are all tangled in knots here), or if it's better to take the metro and walk home. I think I'll walk to the metro tomorrow morning to better judge what the walk is like, then make my decision from there.
Oh, the joys of being a woman.