Paris Lockdown 2.0: Week 1

Gates closed at Printemps department store during Lockdown in Paris

Here we are at the end of Week One. And the word that comes to mind is pain. Confinement, the protracted US election—a whole lot of hurt. Oh, and did I mention two root canals and oral surgery? No? Yeah, that, too. Week of pain.

I noticed the infection about three weeks ago, a little white bump in the gums under a lower right incisor. Being someone who takes impeccable care of her teeth—never even had a cavity—I was alarmed. I Googled my way to…abscess.

Since I’ve been splitting my time between NYC and Paris (at least mentally), I still see my dentist in the States, so I had to turn to a friend’s dentist in the Marais. The news: my lower right canine had apparently died (cue: taps) and was stirring up a fuss in there. I needed an expert to do a (gulp) root canal. Miss Perfect Teeth just lost her reign.

A root canal would be stressful enough—but in a foreign country, in French? During Covid? Really, universe? How did I get here?

Well, I’ll tell ya. This journey started when I was in high school—two unique events that would set me on a trajectory directly to this point in time. Here is the first event:

This is me (on the curb), headed off to my first trip to France and Switzerland with my French class over Easter break. If you’ve read my book, you know about this from Chapter Two: Paris Was an Accident.

You can hear a snippet in this video clip from my book event at WH Smith in Paris:

Gruff and dirty Paris didn’t make a great first impression on a small-town girl, but it would sew seeds that would bear fruit later.

So would the second event, a car accident. Six months after Paris, I was in rehearsal for Grease at a local theater (where I would meet writer Lisa Taylor Huff, with whom I would create No Love Locks). We’d arrived early that cold January night and the theater was still locked. Rather than wait out in the cold, several of us—all leads in the cast—piled into one car to get coffee at 7-Eleven. We didn’t get far. The car skidded on a patch of ice, head on into a telephone pole. I was in the back, and got thrown forward into the headrest of the front seat, hitting my chin and popping the left hinge joint of my jaw.

That’s me on the right, Lisa Taylor Huff in the middle. I played Patty Simcox, the head cheerleader of Rydel High. If you look closely, you can see a metal band above my teeth, part of the wiring apparatus to set my broken jaw. To speak the role through clenched teeth, I read books on ventriloquism technique, and played the entire show as Kathryn Hepburn in The Philadelphia Story (1940).

Jump ahead to 2020, and my dentist and I looking at an X-ray of my poor dead tooth. “Did you have an accident or fall?” she asked. “Or get hit in the face?” I told her no since things have been pretty uneventful lately. She shook her head, puzzled. Then while telling her about my dentist in New York, who is a facial reconstruction specialist, I mentioned my broken jaw from the accident when I was 17. The dentist cocked her head. “But I asked if you were in an accident.”

Apparently, trauma to the face can create tooth issues years—even decades—later. It never occurred to me that she had been asking if I’d ever been in an accident. But suddenly, two events from my past converged to put me squarely where I am now: in Paris in a fancy endodontist’s office on Boulevard Haussmann, just a few minutes’ walk from where I bought perfume at Galeries Lafayette as a kid. Accident?

Upside of having dental issues in Paris? The sights en route.
Printemps Department store on an empty Boulevard Haussmann during Lockdown in Paris
Au Printemps department store. ©Lisa Anselmo

My new favorite oral surgeon has an office in a stunning building on Boulevard Haussmann in the 8th arrondissement. I had three visits over two weeks, the last two during lockdown. This neighborhood, around Opera and Les Grands Magasins is usually teeming with activity. My photos capture a different picture.

A quiet cobblestone street lined with classic Haussmannian buildings in Paris
Lovely (and empty) Avenue Percier ©Lisa Anselmo
Facade of a Paris apartment building with white shutters
Classic Parisian facade, Rue Roquépine ©Lisa Anselmo
White stone church in Paris with a clock tower under a blue sky
Eglise de Saint Esprit ©Lisa Anselmo
Triadou Haussmann cafe, closed during Covid, chairs stacked inside
Triadou Haussmann, since 1935, closed for Covid. ©Lisa Anselmo
Florist in Paris decorated for the holidays
This lovely little flower shop does Click-and-Collect service. ©Lisa Anselmo
Bookstore in Paris with display tables blocking the entrance during Covid
Bookshop doing takeaway service for books! ©Lisa Anselmo
Marble lobby of a building in Paris with sweeping staircase
This is the lobby of my endodontist. I know. One of the perks of dental surgery in Paris. ©Lisa Anselmo
Versailles? No, my dentist in Paris. ©Lisa Anselmo
Lobby of a building in Paris, red door with colorful marble walls
Who could imagine so much pain could be behind a door so beautiful? ©Lisa Anselmo


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9 responses to “Paris Lockdown 2.0: Week 1

    • The root canals were not painful, just uncomfortable because both canals were completely calcified solid. He really had to dig. It’s the gruesome oral surgery to remove the stubborn infection that is painful. Hoo boy!

  1. What a cute picture of you and Lisa Taylor Huff! Of course I had no idea you’d known one another since teen-age years. I loved her sweet finding-love-in-Paris story and was saddened by her premature death. I supported the No Locks effort and truly hate how those darn locks deface the beautiful bridges. Hope this is the end of your dental trauma – root canals are much easier and less painful than in years past.

  2. Lisa, Root canals are always the pits, but what a beautiful location for yours! Hope you are doing better and better each day. Loved the photo of you and your schoolmates on your first trip to Paris. My first trip to Paris was also in high school over Easter vacation – way back before you were born! That trip began my love for France.
    Take good care.

  3. Lisa,
    Only you could make root canal sound so enticing.
    I hope that by now you’re over the worst of it. And that you’re in a better mood, knowing how the election in the US turned out.
    I know I am.


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