Archive for November, 2011

Bonjour, Tristesse

November 21, 2011

My last day in Paris: disappointing.  Closed establishments, bad sketches, aching feet, trite sentiments.  I should have gone to the movies like I wanted to instead of fearing that it wasn’t the “right” activity.  I don’t want to depart –– period the end.  I could probably hear the bells of Notre Dame from my room every day for the rest of my life and not get sick of them.  Stuck at this event where I don’t really want to be –– I wish I was out at dinner already, eating a salade chevre chaud.  I will return home Great-American-Novel-less.  Le tear.  I want this day to be over, finally, so I can lock myself in the book store and find my Never Ending Story or Wizard of Oz so I can read it and enter an alternate universe in which I save the Child-Like Empress (or lead the motley crew toward the Emerald Palace, whatevs) and become queen of a tiny, magical world that I never, ever have to leave.

See you on the other side.

Overheard at S & Co., Round Two

November 21, 2011

“That’s what you get for doing a bit of drunk vintage shopping.”

Joan Vs. Joan

November 20, 2011

As my newest obsession these days is Joan of Arc, I decided to engage in a little pitting: former icon vs. current icon.

Both in 3/4 profile!

Reasons why Joan Didion and Joan of Arc are the same:

1. Short haircuts

2. fixed on her “native land”

3. “waifish” figures

4. statuses as icons to melancholy young women with a strong sense of thanatos

5. One degree (in a Kevin Bacon six degree-esque way) from Otto Preminger

Reasons why Joan Didion and Joan of Arc are different

1. Presumably at one point in her life Joan Didion menstruated

2. Joan Didion had a child (though technically neither one bore a child)

3. “[Natasha Richardson’s] first marriage, to the producer Robert Fox, had taken place in my apartment.  She had filled the room with quince blossoms for the ceremony.”

4. Only one led one’s country to military victory

5. Technically, only one Joan has been canonized.

Overheard at Shakespeare & Company

November 20, 2011

“One time I found The Waste Land in the children’s section.”

Technological Angst

November 19, 2011

IS: i had a terrible melancholia-watching experience due to TECHNOLOGICAL DIFFICULTIES

I no longer believe in progress as a result.

ID: I really feel like I should post an update on my blog but it’s already 2:30 in the morning… ugh, being a carefree Parisienne is exhausting!

IS: Save the blogging for yo’ Americana alter-ego!

ID: RIP Demi and Ashton’s marriage.

Midnight at the Bookstore

November 18, 2011

Sort of like the Ben Stiller movie, but cooler…

Oh, how I want to stay up and putz around, but alas, it’s almost 2 in the AM and I really ought to rest my weary transient Parisian head!


November 17, 2011

It has been brought to my attention that a whole three people are following my progress in Paris via this blog, so I figured I would try to give a more substantial update as I’ve been quite delinquent thus far.  In lieu of giving a skeletal overview, I’m going to describe to you my last day and a half.

First, I wake up in the piano room surrounded by books and get ready to open the store.  Then I walk to get a cheese crepe (the new breakfast of champions) and decide to stroll down the Seine to the D’Orsay.  I decide to take a few pictures of the Pont des Art, which is where we used to hang out and drink wine from the bottle about five years ago, to admire its new ‘do:

Locks of love all over the Pont des Art!

Then I get to the D’Orsay and decide I’ve already been there and the line is way too long and my little feet are freezing in my loafers and so I decide to walk across the Seine and browse the windows of the ridiculously fancy shops on the Rue Saint Honore.  After a peek inside Goyard, Claudie Pierlot and Colette, I briefly contemplate suicide by drowning but decide instead to buy a coffee at Starbucks (give me a break, they have free Internet and the coffee there is better here than it is at Starbucks in America.)  Then I think that since I’m on the Rue du Rivoli I could walk to the artists’ cooperative at 59, so I do that, all the while feeling that due to the cold, sort of wet ground that the soles of my shoes are almost perceptibly molding to the shapes of my feet.  I get to 59 and wander through the artists’ studios as fortunately they were open.  Less fortunately the work was a little… mmm, childish?  Don’t get me wrong, I dig children, but the art itself wasn’t very sophisticated.  The only pieces I liked were by a guy named Balyc, whose smaller works (not like the one below) remind me of electrocardiograms.

Then I wandered across the street into an H&M and contemplated buying a pair of platform sneaker-y looking things lined with wool but decided I should save my money for more crepes.  (Did I mention also I bought an overpriced tiny bracelet at Colette?  Probably not –– left that one out because yes, I’m ashamed I got it simply because I heart that store and not at all because I thought it was really that spectacular.)  Hopped on the Metro to go to the Musee Gustave Moreau and got a TICKET on the Metro for 40 EUROS!  Merde!  Finally made it to the museum, where I got in for free (snuck in?  I have no idea what happened.)  I went with the expressed purpose of sketching but there was a group of teenage art students whose silhouettes and classical physiques intimidated me.  Nevertheless, I managed to get out two naked people, an eye, and a holy figure of some sort.  After that I stomped out of the Musee, furiously insisting to myself that I would never again ride the metro in Paris, JAMAIS.  Unfortunately I walked so long in not really the right direction (not really the WRONG direction, either, just an unproductive one) and, hungry, tired, and cold, caved and bought a pack of ten tickets.  Came back to my beloved bookshop, so warm and cozy, and decided to grab a demi-baguette and go over to Notre Dame, which I can see from this window, for evening mass.  There was the tiniest old French woman dressed all in black sitting a few rows behind me who began all the hymns in an almost shrill voice about a bar ahead of time and pretty off key.  She was all by herself, and I don’t know if it was my awe at the ridiculously high ceilings or the incense burning my eyes or the fact that this little old lady probably came to mass every day all alone and then went home all alone, but I welled up a bit!  (Seriously!)  Then I came back to the store because I was about to fall asleep on my feet and took a nap before my shift in my favorite velvet chair:

This is my chair but whenever I sleep in it my foot or my hand goes numb.

Woke up JUST in time for my shift, during which I did a lot of shelving and stickering and drooled over all the new arrivals (particularly one book entitled Atlas of Remote Islands: 50 Islands I Have Never Set Foot On and Never Will by Judith Schalansky –– hint, hint.  This book reminds me that as a child one of my hobbies was to make up islands, draw elaborate road maps in them and assign addresses to all my friends, the schools, the stores and, like a good Connecticut girl, the private country clubs.)  (I think I will have to sneak downstairs and make a wish list later –– there are too many glorious texts here!)

After my two hour shift, we closed up the shop, and I was the sucker stuck without the key which meant I was locked up inside.  I finished off some wine we had lying around and then poked around the world wide web, as they call it, and also the library.  For those of you interested in the sartorial aspect of things, I should mention that my hair was in Heidi braids over my head and I was wearing blue monogrammed flannel pajamas.  Finally the two other “Tumbleweeds” came home and I got tired but instead of going to sleep I stayed up into the wee hours reading Shaw’s Saint Joan, which is probably why I overslept this morning.

Today I am giving myself the day off from sightseeing to devote myself entirely to S & Co.  I did my shift this morning, then had my requisite cheese crepe (three days in a row –– there honestly is meth in those things, because nothing else is that addictive) and then came back and offered to help with a transcription project.  Lucky for me, they happen to be just beginning a book project about the history of the store and are rummaging through old articles and books about the legendary patriarch of this place, George Whitman, maybe-grandson-maybe-nephew of Walt, lover of all “angelic” ladies, and host of weekly tea parties, who is currently hidden upstairs in the attic essentially on his deathbed.  His daughter Sylvia, who looks perhaps more cherubic than I do, now runs the store, and while I technically was supposed to be interviewed by her before moving in, I’ve been here three nights now and today was the first time I saw her.  I have an immediate girl crush.

So right now that’s what I’m doing.  I even get to do work that’s quasi editorial as they’re letting me pick out some quotes and anecdotes of my own choosing.  This is sort of not that smart of them as they don’t really know me, but luckily for them I’m a sharp tack.  My favorite quote from this book about the store’s tumbleweeds thus far?  “[George’s] favorites are girls with long hair and short skirts who have a tragic sense of life and a magical sensitivity to people.”  Mais bien sur!

Tonight the Beaujolais comes out!  PARTY IN THE STREETS!  I’m forming a coalition to Occupy Notre Dame, and we will do while slugging wine and spouting Rimbaud in true Parisian style.

If you have any suggestions for activities for me or songs to put on my “while I transcribe” playlist, please email them to  Merci beaucoup!

Back to work!

One Quick Thing First

November 17, 2011

My summation of the ouevre of Philip Roth:

“Hi, I am Neil Zuckerman from Newark, New Jersey.  I’m not super religious but I grew up in a Jewish family, and I spend a lot of time (consciously and unconsciously) thinking about Jewish identity and assimilation in modern American society.  I will likely be radically confronted with this conflict in one way before my story ends, at which point I will conclude in a very non-conclusive way that total assimilation is not really possible and I’m always going to be  Jew.  Oy!”

Le Poeme

November 16, 2011

A Poor Aesthete in Paris: A Tale of Modern Woe

I strolled up the Rue Saint Honore,

browsed through Colette,

then lied down by the Seine

and wept.


November 15, 2011

So many of you (namely, two or three friends) have asked me to update them as to my whereabouts so here goes:

To the left of the piano you’ll see a little bed; I slept on its equivalent on the other side of the room (off screen) last night.  Here I am at Shakespeare and Company!  My trip to Paris is as cliched young-writer-in-France as it possibly could be.  I wanted to go to the Musee Rodin this morning but alas, my debit card seems not to be working, and according to a very helpful I think Indian woman at Chase Bank, I can use it again in two hours.  This sucks, because I would like some baguette, and to do a little activity or two.

Unfortunately I find myself rather incapable of giving accurate descriptions of my experience thus far.  Every time someone asks, I feel a little sleepy.  So, in lieu of a big to do (though do remind me to compare Sylvia Whitman, the owner of this store, to the Wizard of Oz at some point), here is the list of Quintana Roo Dunne’s drawers, labeled in “perfect print,” at the beach house in Malibu:

Cash, passport, my IRA, jewelry, little toys


A bientot, mes amies!