Confessions of a Chick in Paris

Confessions of a Chick in Paris

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Paris: Le Retour!

June 18, 2014 2 Comments

catacombesOn a crisp sunny day last year in early May, I made my way to Paris with a suitcase full of dreams. As a wide-eyed newcomer to Paris, the following six months would prove to be nothing short of a soul-replenishing experience…

Is that cheesy enough? Are you grossed out too? I almost made myself dry-heave.

So here’s what really happened: didn’t know a single person, got lost, forced myself to randomly meet people via awkward meet-ups, got lost, ate a lot of pastries, stopped getting lost,  proved the “negative Nancies” wrong by making friends with actual Parisians ( they’re just as friendly and ready to laugh as anyone else), ate more pastries, got to know my Left Bank home pretty well, ate a lot of other food/came up with a list of favourites, joined a running club with a group of locals so I wouldn’t gain a hundred pounds, celebrated Bastille Day in pure Parisian fashion, firemen’s ball included (see: outdoor nightclubs for a two-euro cover charge, with handsome firefighters as the primary entertainment), picnicked on various grassy knolls throughout the summer (then compiled a list of favourite grassy knolls), wrote my next book, published my next book,  and ate more pastries.

It was a fabulous six-month stay (with its share of personal moments that don’t need elaboration), but I will say that going into it with a book-writing deadline influenced a lot of my stay, in terms of locking myself away to write when I should’ve been strolling around Paris, and thinking a lot about plot lines and character arcs, when I should’ve been taking note of certain experiences in greater detail. I don’t begrudge the wine-induced, “talking to myself” writing nights one bit (and thanks for reading book 3, everyone!), but it left me with a bit of a Parisian deficiency. This deficiency equates to a slightly incomplete historical record of my experiences in Paris.

SO I’M GOING BACK TO PARIS FOR THE SUMMER!

It was the only logical conclusion.

The big difference now is that with last year’s experience behind me, I have the benefit of jumping back in from the moment I return to Paris. The other big difference is not worrying about a deadline. And so, 1 + 1 =…living on the Right Bank this time, and at least five hours a day of strolling, interacting, consuming, revelling, and taking notes (could’ve been ten hours a day, but I need to catch up with with old mates, you see). By the time I finish, I’ll have so many thoughts and so much information on Paris, that it’ll only be a matter of organizing it all. This is really for my own future reference, like if I go back to Paris thirty years from now and realize I’ve forgotten everything. At that inevitable point, I’ll easily reference everything from the handy book on Paris I wrote, along with the moods and ambience that characterized those experiences (Will the tone be flowery? No. Blunt and sometimes embarrassing? Yes). I guess that’s what bugs me about Paris books, as they are today; the entire experience isn’t centralized. Like first I have to read a whole memoir to get in the mood, then I have to read a guide book to learn about good places to eat, and then I have to read at least a dozen blogs, depending on what I’m looking for (i.e. ten croissants from different districts face off in a battle royale, but only one can survive (insert “Hunger Games” joke here; oh wait, I kind of already did, and it wasn’t good. Remind me to never apply for “Last Comic Standing”). By taking all three of the above categories, and putting as much of each into a single book, I will have myself an inspirational yet efficient reference for when I’m elderly, forgetful, and uninspired. It’s a time capsule, made my me, and gifted to me. If anyone else wants to read it, that’s cool, as it will be published like all my other books, but it’s rooted in that all-important writer’s jumping off point: write something you care about!

Well I should go; only two weeks left ’til my return to Paris, or in other words: two weeks left to diet and work out like crazy, to prepare myself for a summer of eating whatever the hell I want…(red flag: my dieting plan will be challenged by a road trip to DC for the next four days, which aside from checking out a few monuments, will be entirely centred around eating. This can only mean one of two things; either A: “Hard body in two weeks” is an unrealistic expectation, or B: next stop, bulimia express!

letterR2

 

 

 

PS: I share this picture way too often, but I can’t get enough of it, and I plan on finding those 2013 birds when I return…

PPS: I will pepper this blog with updates direct from Paris throughout the summer; stay tuned!

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Dreamaholics Anonymous script: the 1st ten pages…in Paris!

May 23, 2014 4 Comments

eiffelA writer’s work day is a vast and varied thing. I will never call it difficult or noble, when society’s full of people doing tougher and nobler things, but it entails all kinds of “work” you might not associate with a writer’s job.

Like…for example…spending a solid hour reading through links and watching tutorials on how to embed a PDF into a wordpress.com page, which resulted in a bevy (yes, bevy) of conflicting info on whether or not embedding is possible unless you upgrade to wordpress.org, and the eventual realization that all I had to do was get a Scribd account and upload my file through there…the end result being a lovely string of code with magical embedding powers.

(I fell asleep as I was typing that; and you?)

It’s entirely possible that it took me an hour to figure out the above ’cause I’m a moron, so fine, with my personal brain capacity as a qualifier: the above was an hour of solid WORK. Another thing you might not associate with a writer’s job is Googling the term “speedballing,” but that’s for my next book so don’t even worry about it, mmkay? Back to the PDF embedding…below are the first ten pages of my screenplay Dreamaholics Anonymous! Nine of these ten pages take place in Paris, so HELLO, very applicable to this blog, wink wink! (unlike my last post on mannequin kneecaps, which had nothing to do with Paris but was gripping nonetheless). It’s a dramatic comedy with some romance, not a romantic comedy (there’s a difference, I swear), and I hope you enjoy this kick-off to a tale which can quickly be described as such:  “When a fledgling writer gets tricked into committing to an “AA style” group for dreamers, she must decide whether to give up or keep the dream alive, amidst the preachings of a tyrannical group leader, a domineering family, and an unexpected romance within the group.”

Page ten may not get you to that “AA style” group for dreamers plot point, but play your cards right and maybe I’ll share some more. Or maybe let’s get a producer on board! Or maybe, most likely, I eventually get my friends to act it all out with convincing props. Right now this script is in screenplay contest limbo, since all the big contests won’t be be posting any results until July or August (if I make the next round of even one of those contests I’ll allow myself a guilt-free bowl of “double-churned” (can’t you just hear the fat?) ice cream). Until then an “honourable mention” a.k.a. third place at the 2014 LA Reel Film Festival is a nice little boost, as I get myself back into book-writing mode with “Paris Anyone? How to Bring Your Dream Trip to Life” (working title), which is an edgy and useful guidebook with some personalized reflections. It’s also the book where the speedballing reference will go! (except that is NOT a personalized reflection)

I should go then, so many more technological writer things to learn! letterR2

PS: I hope you enjoy the first ten pages of the script, and I hope the Paris descriptions help you picture a movie in your head…

PPS: invariably this PDF won’t embed properly in certain browsers, to which I offer you an empathetic sigh…

PPPS: PRO TIP: if you zoom-in the view in your browser it’s a little easier to read. I’m such a tech pro, I can’t even stand it..

View this document on Scribd

Inverted Knee-Caps: Fashion Craze For 2014!

April 17, 2014 2 Comments

mannequinMy relationship with mannequins has been nothing short of tumultuous over the years. First, there was my confusing childhood crush on a grown man/mannequin hybrid in Jeff from Today’s Special, and then, growing up, the realization that a mannequin’s painted-on eyeliner was so superior to my own. For a brief moment things turned around, when a movement began to eliminate hair and faces on mannequins across the board, in favour of the polished and uniform faceless look. I suspect this was done to accommodate the fact that many prospective shoppers don’t have porcelain skin and horse-hair locks of gold. It was definitely a strategy to improve race relations, and recently itmannequin went a big step further when mannequins started having no heads at all.  It was a bold but intelligent move, since as an ethnic minority myself, there’s nothing I relate to more than a decapitated likeness of a human in the latest and greatest fashions…

A few weeks ago though, things went horribly wrong. It happened on Toronto’s bustling Yonge Street in the downtown core. My friends and I (it’s important for bloggers to “character drop” friends into their posts, to eliminate the stigma that bloggers have no friends, even if the “friends” in question are fictional, and in my case they are, but no one needs to know that except myself and the readers (aka my REAL friends! Are you all eating Cheetos in your pajamas too?)…oh wait, I forgot what I was saying. Oh yeah, so my friends and I were strolling along after a fabulous dinner, a skip in our step from splitting two bottles of vino—friends are great for sharing the vino in a dignified way, as opposed to drinking the bottle alone in your pajamas after binge-eating a bag of Cheetos—when we came across…THIS.

Your eyes do not deceive you; those, my friends, are anatomically-disgraceful INVERTED knee-caps. We weren’t sure if our eyes were deceiving us either that night, so I took the picture, let it sit for exactly one month, and didn’t look upon it until today, only to find that it wasn’t a sick joke. I mean damn, like it wasn’t already hard enough to relate to blonde mannequins, or twenty-inch-waisted mannequins, or decapitated mannequins, but now you’re telling me the basic structure of my human form is no longer worthy of wearing the dresses in the shop window? It won’t be long before women start getting elective knee-inversion surgeries, just like how there’s procedures to elongate legs, or a recent rise in butt implants, or the newfound obsession with having a thigh-gap (did you see that episode of Dr. Oz? Better yet did you see Beyoncé’s photoshopped thigh-gap from that day she was playing golf?).

The fact that this blog is supposed to be about Paris reminiscence (and there’s so much reminiscence I haven’t yet shared!) should tell you how this issue has been weighing on my mind. I even went back and changed the post’s title to reflect this disturbing topic.

Due to my current state of distress, I think I’ll leave it at that. In other news, since I haven’t blogged for two months, I never shared that Ted Talk I did in November re: following your dreams. Well here it is! (I’m also working on a butt-load of writer stuff, but it’s still too early to mention it yet…just know that I’m using the full 10% of my brain that we humans use!)

letterR2

 

 

Take Heart, Singletons, Valentine’s Day is OK!

February 13, 2014 9 Comments

ralphSingle people have been led to believe that Valentine’s Day is when they must confront their loneliness, feel sad, then reflect on all the ways they can improve as a dateable commodity, to avoid winding up in this sorry predicament the next time this day rolls around. It’s like a new year’s resolution, only tailored to your romantic inadequacies, as opposed to the weight/nicotine/alcohol issues that are typically targeted on January 1st.

Many single people (mostly women) fight the power by getting all dressed up and hittin’ the club with “their girls,” where they’ll inevitably hold court with the remnants of the male population, the single guys who troll such clubs on Valentine’s night, ready to feed off a single woman’s fear of dying alone (1. eww; and 2. been there, said NO to that).

But back to the people who accept their lot in life as feeling sad/punished on Valentine’s Day: stop that now, there’s no need! And I’m about to tell you why.

Few people know that Valentine’s Day is the one day a year to take pity on couples, as they only engage in romance on this day because of the biggest and loudest reminder ever known to man:

store aisle

Worse than that, is how contrived all this romance is. I mean…a Pepto-Bismol-coloured card with a corporation’s impersonalized greeting? NOT romantic.

ferrero heartOr how about chocolates that are supposedly romantic because they’ve been stuffed into a heart-shaped box for this once-a-year occasion? Umm NO (and don’t be fooled by the box, it’s exactly the same as the regular Ferrero Rocher chocolate, only the heart-shaped box has eight measly pieces, whereas the year-round ferrero boxrectangle box contains SIXTEEN pieces for only a dollar more! There’s a sucker born every day…)

stuffed bearWhat about stuffed animals holding stuffed-hearts? Seriously, what’s a grown woman supposed to do with a stuffed animal? That’s the equivalent of getting Flintstones chewable vitamins for your wedding anniversary.

But guess what Romi, ” the couples say (condescendingly), “we don’t do the shitty “greeting card and chocolate” stuff on V-day. We plan romantic getaways, and give each other mix tapes, and do scavenger hunts, and make crafts based on inside jokes, which means our love is REAL, so the single people can go back to envying our holiday.

First of all, dear couples, you doth protest too much. Second of all, no matter what you do, no mark-mcgwire-ap2matter how quirky and “not mainstream” your hipster romance is, if it happened on Valentine’s Day, it’s immediately disqualified from the best romantic moment of all time, because any sweet gesture was jacked-up, amplified, and prompted by the manufactured romance that’s filling up the air on February 14th. It’s like when disgraced baseball star Mark McGwire tried to claim the home-run record when his butt-cheeks were pumped full of steroids. I DON’T THINK SO.

Of course, this won’t stop the couples from trying to show the single people who’s boss. You’ll know that feeling when the Facebook posts start trickling in: “My man is the best!” Or “I’m the luckiest girl in the world!” You know what the “luckiest girl in the world” posts are supposed to do, right? They’re supposed to remind you that you’re not (until February 15th of course, when everything goes back to being the same, ya know?). It’s cool though, ’cause calendar-prompted romance is the same as a tainted home-run record, so why feel bad about that? And let’s not forget the slashed prices on chocolate you’ll find on February 15th! (the heart-shaped boxes of Ferrero Rocher are always the first to go)

Despite this post being a streak-free spray-tan of self-esteem for the average single person, your couple friends definitely deserve a shout-out, for when they do romantic things on any old day of the year (and when asked why, they respond:  “just because”). When these random acts of romance happen and you hear about it,  you’re totally allowed to feel jealous. And sad. And maybe even jump off a cliff.

Okay so the “dying alone in a violent way, cliff-death wise” imagery was harsh, but back to my overall point: Valentine’s Day should never make you feel bad again, so take back the night!

letterR2

PS: is it weird that I listened to “You’re Beautiful” by James Blunt on repeat while writing this post?

Being a Dreamer in Paris is Sooo 2013!

January 8, 2014 5 Comments

dreamer profile picAll the signs are there to put an end to being a dreamer, n’est pas? 

It starts with the beginning of a brand new year. For people who indulged too much over the holidays, this means an end to the guiltless consumption of chickens stuffed in ducks stuffed in turkeys (it’s called turducken and it’s real), and the beginning of joining a gym so you can buy into the Richard Simmons lie, the supposed promise that your legs could ever be as toned and oily as his, or that silky striped short-shorts are available en masse.

For those of us who are pretty much the same weight all the time and pretty okay with that—isn’t it cool how I sound like a zen person who never even wrote about a weight-conscious protagonist in her first book?—we’re thrust into reality in different ways. There’s less sweat and  less “trying to like kale” involved in this latter case, but it’s equally likely to exhaust you and stimulate your gag reflex.

I’m talking about those of us who managed to embrace our dreamer selves in the year just past, floating under the radar of “I’ll settle down and straighten out in 2014, don’t worry.

And now, my friends, it’s January 2014 (dun dun dun!—>it’s hard to convey dramatic music in text, which is why I regard writing as the most inferior of the arts; I wish I’d learned to play the piano, but this is what I’ve got, so I will pimp it like a hooker with an enormous bosom).

While living in Paris last year, I was surrounded by dreamers all the time. They would come and go but the theme of our journeys was the same; we’d left something secure for the quest of something different, which manifested itself in many ways: inspiration, enlightenment, and a high concentration of connecting with incredible people.

But then we all left that world, and hanging on to our inspiration HERE makes us seem like we’re “koo-koo for Cocoa Puffs.”

Luckily the new year offers up a slap to sort us out,  along with the encouragement of family, which most recently sounded like this: “Send your resumé to a bank; even if you don’t like the job at least you’ll be making money.“. Right, the money lie. It’s so much worse than the Russell Simmons lie, because unlike the oily toned legs of a sixty-five-year-old man, the signs of money are everywhere. Don’t let that statement confuse you; I’m a huge fan of money. I mean how the hell do you think I got to Paris in the first place? On well wishes and group hugs? I even cheer whenever the Canadian dollar drops in value, because my book royalty checks are in US currency (hopefully by cheering heartily for Canada in the Olympics I can right this wrong).

Yes, I’m a huge fan of cold hard cash, but the difference between some of it and a lot of it is usually happiness. Some people make a good amount of money and are also really happy. I mean of course they are, because it’s not like their constant Facebook updates about how happy they are represent a lack of satisfaction that can only be cured with the validating power of the “like” button, of course not!

But forget the ones who have it all…what about the ones who have to choose? How do you choose between doing what you love for most of your awake hours, vs. doing what’s expected of you so you don’t make people uncomfortable because your path isn’t easy to explain? Or easy to brag about? Or easy to not be embarrassed by? (again, I am referring to the hooker career choice).

I am now at the six-hundred word mark of this post, and I’m wondering if I’ve inadvertently written a glowing endorsement for prostitution.

(…)

I guess what I’m trying to say is, there’s no balance and routine and security to being a dreamer, so the sensible thing to do is just stop, especially when you’ve already had a taste of what it could be like; that should be enough, ya know? Hang on to the memories, kid!

Or you could be insane and keep reaching for insane goals, because there’s one thing you know how to do better than any other thing, and expressing yourself in that way, and connecting with others in that way is essential to your existence. So you just keep going, even when there’s no clear path, even when you know there might not be many more days to do this if something big doesn’t happen, and even when it means you might go back to a job you don’t like at some point, while you brainstorm revisions to your strategy for happiness.

Well, I have to go now, ’cause I’ve got big honkin’ plans and there’s lots and lots to do.

[You may now decide which path I've chosen and imagine what happens next:

1. bank teller

2. dreamer

3. lady of the night]

letterR2

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