Today, I didn’t know better and I had 2 (can’t always make it through the day on less than 6 hours sleep). So for a while there was a party in my head*. Until my stomach crashed it.
*Perfect soundtrack to a coffee high turns out to be Trainspotting, which is on rotation in my car, CD slot 3. I get overly precise on a caffeine high.
One of the hard things about living so far from where I grew up is the lack of familiar surroundings and objects*. Sometimes I just want to immerse myself back in particular periods of my life, with the help of props (old possessions, and most of all photo albums). I have a handful of photos here with me, but they feel like a disorganised jumble that tells an incomplete story.
Still, when I’m hit with a bad kick of homesickness mixed with nostalgia (a killer combination to be sure) I still pull them out and look – like I did today.
Behold: my grandmother with a gigantic bow and a doll. My mother riding a funny tricycle/horsey thing. And me, too short to have my head completely in the frame at a photo booth. I did warn you my collection had severe gaps in it.
*For those of you who think me heartless for not mentioning it, of course I miss my family and seeing their faces. I’m glad we cleared that up.
I love beautiful things, and it’s beautiful.
I don’t buy calendars because I never find any I like, and I don’t like throwing them out when the year has finished. Too existential in a mundane way (time gone by, trash). This one is reusable forever.
I lived in Paris for three and a bit years and I miss it very much. It contains 49 little pieces of Paris.
I love the number 17 (which is my birthday coincidentally), and this one has the 7 penned the way it should be: with a bar across it. So it satisfies one of my little manias (while stomping across it for ’7′ and ’27′, but you can’t have it all).
I want it and I have picked out a wall for it. It’s already got its own reserved spot.
In the spirit of prioritising hair over tooth, do I now prioritise Paris calendar over further tooth surgery?
Here is a funny thing about me: I am a clean neat-freak. I love bleach, pine disinfectant, eucalyptus spray (kills 99.9% of germs!). But show me an abandoned building, a derelict house, architectural neglect and ‘It-a makes-a my heart-a go boom-a ticky boom’ (the Italian captain from ‘Allo allo‘, yes?).
I start to jump up and down, my mind busy with the pictures I could take and thoughts of what could possibly be in there. Except:
- These types of places can be dangerous (asbestos, structural weaknesses and collapsing floors).
- These types of places are patrolled, or very clearly marked as private property. Did someone say ‘breaking and entering’? I like my blank criminal record too much.
On occasion I have asked for access – and gotten it (the legal way, yay!), but mostly I have a mental inventory of places around Melbourne and around the world I would kill to have a look at, and probably never will.
Being the chicken that I am, pictures of others’ daring forbidden urban explorations are as close as I will get to certain places, and are often enough to give me a thrilling fix. I don’t know the name of this person, but I am really grateful he risked his life by walking on (in use!) Parisian métro tracks to the abandoned St Martin stop, closed for the last 40 or 50 years. Just knowing it exists (not exactly sure where it is though) and that these gorgeous painted ads are still intact makes my day.
Boom-a ticky boom.
A few years back I was having a conversation with a gallery owner and a photographer. The photographer asked me a question (what it was I can’t remember) and it lead to telling him I was French. Pause – then:
‘I wouldn’t have guessed you were French. You don’t look like a typical French person.’
Gallery owner jumps in: ‘Were you expecting someone from ‘Allo Allo‘ instead?’
Photographer admits: ‘Yes.’
Really? English actors doing their best exaggerated French accents, dressed in bérets and trench coats with ankle socks and little shoes? Is that what people really imagine the French look (and sound) like?
By the way, Allo Allo is now one of my favourite shows. And to think someone has it as a mental reference for my people – hilarious.
(Image is from here).
When I moved with my sister to the 17th arrondissement (métro stop Rome to be exact – a bit too close to the Place de Clichy for comfort, which at night is a seedy dump), she decided to do things well and draw a Feng Shui map of our apartment. (So we could arrange things around in the optimal way – thus attracting wealth, happiness, and gorgeous men into our lives while feeling completely balanced and zen – from what I understand).
About half an hour into it she stumbled into my room, half horrified and half giggling. According to her calculations, the centre of our apartment, the energetic hotspot (the one place that really matters) was (drumroll!) the toilet.
That’s right, the toilet.
So we hung a small crystal ball above it, and chanted every time we flushed. Or something to that effect.
Now you know what to do if your toilet is in the way of your energetic hotspot. As for me, I have one of the funniest memories of my life rolling into one the 17th arrondissement, Feng Shui and a toilet (and the expression on my sister’s face telling me all about it). Classic.
(Image is from here).
Cliché ahead: I love Édith Piaf (but I hated the movie – a story for another time). For me her music speaks about life in a way that is unmatched: sometimes miserable/sweet/uplifting, a mixture of uncontrived emotions that go right through me and make me want to twirl.
I heard one of her songs on the radio two days ago by an English-speaking artist (her French was damn good with just the most lovely tinges of an accent): after some digging, I’m fairly positive I had my first run in with Martha Wainwright and her rendition of ‘Le Brun et le Blond’.
I am now obsessed and have ‘Sans fusils, Ni Souliers, À Paris‘ squarely in my sights. I couldn’t find the song I heard on youtube, so instead I will leave you with another beautiful classic she performed in London just last week. I dare you not to twirl.
Today is my maman’s birthday. Living so far kills me several times a year (for many different reasons), and today is one of them – birthdays always do it to me (and November is populated with them! Nephews Scott and Flavio, and maman Renée – damn you!!)
A few things about my mother:
- She is a chemical engineer (imagining her with a lab coat and goggles cracks me up every time).
- In her notes and diaries, she refers to me as ‘Sa’. Shorter than my full name and descriptive enough I won’t be confused with my sister (who also has a name starting with S).
- She loved the year 2000 because whenever she wrote it down, she had the feeling she was drawing a stylised Lochness monster.
- She taught me not to follow fashion and to be persistent until you get what is rightfully yours.
- She falls asleep in front of the tv, wakes up puzzled and asks about what she missed. Which I always found annoying until I did exactly the same thing with Christian in front of ‘Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid‘.
- She is not usually very patient but when others are involved she makes an effort.
- She loves sudoku and hates to cook.
- She is about 15 cm (6″) shorter than me and exploits me by asking me to get things out of tall cupboards when I’m around.
Happy Birthday Maman! I love you!