Yes, that’s what I’m afraid of. Going about with something in my mind all my life that never changes. I find it so difficult to change.

Virginia Woolf, Night and Day

One has a moral obligation to take responsibility for one’s actions, and that includes one’s words and silences, yes, one’s silences, because silences rise to heaven too, and God hears them, and only God understands and judges them, so one must be very careful with one’s silences.

Roberto Bolaño, By Night in Chile

Even without fascism, I was dishonest. Even without fascism, I censored myself. I refused to let myself write about what really moved me … Even without fascism, honesty was damned hard to come by. Even without fascism, I had pasted imaginary oak-tag patches over certain areas of my life and steadfastly refused to look at them.

Erica Jong, Fear of Flying

More of this please

Abbey Bookshop, librairie canadienne.

This week, I was a lucky girl. All of those woulda, coulda, shoulda wishes I usually have, bustling through the work week, became a part of its reality.

(That first photo was actually taken by my mom during their last visit, but I think she won’t blame me. At least, it represents I’d rather be spending time with my family part, too.)

I’d rather be exploring some bookstore’s shelves… Well, on Tuesday, after my best friend had already given up on me for the day, having taken care of the second coffee, even stronger than the first, yet still seeing my eyes numbly looking around, we crossed a bookstore. Somehow, my tired eyes saw a book title, stopped my legs and directed my body towards the pile of 2€ offers. I ended up buying four of them, those badass French classics I now am able to read in their own language (hopefully haha), and soon I was hopping like a happy bunny on some weird psychedelic drugs. She just laughed ”Guees you didn’t need coffee, but books. Should have known!”

I’d rather be roaming the streets of Paris… Every time I get too caught up with the everyday life, I tend to forget they are right there for me. It always makes me be grateful for visitors, they remind us to re-explore what we are already supposed to know. Like the Latin Quarter. I mean you could used to be sure to find me there at any given day, now it seems it’s been months… Oh well I guess my own neighbourhood ain’t that bad neither.

I’d rather be taking a train to the South… Winter made me say that a lot. On Monday, I actually did. And the weather goddesses were with me this time! More on it later. Still, don’t you just love the Montpellier’s train station!

For WPC: I’d rather be…

In and out, close and far

Paris Plage.

Maybe, what I miss most about summer is not just street walks whose existence is barely touched in the cold, but sitting down on a bench or a sidewalk and observe or read, for as long as you like, warm air embracing you and sun rays caressing you through the branches. Melting into your own world in the middle of the city’s sea of people. Reading outside is somehow not the same as in that enclosing space of your own room, although I’m not sure why I prefer parks to my sofa. Maybe, appreciating the inner and the outer world is inter-connected.

No matter the season though, I realized I have a growing affinity for anonymous city readers, which are nowadays mostly my fellow metro passengers. That summer day, it was this girl meters away from me, but somehow close in her attentive leaning posture. I was wondering what she was reading, while I was sadly finishing Anaïs Nin’s early diary… Oh that fever of living.

For WPC: A Face in the Crowd.

Two sides to every human

In a way, I could easily imagine lying in bed all day, eat my breakfast and lunch still in there, not cleaning my own room, and let people visit me while I stay comfy in my pyjamas. Yet, I would just as easily line up for getting up early for a trip pretty much anywhere, reading books and good journalism all day, going to various happenings after, following the expressions of our current culture and joke around with people at dinner parties.

That’s why finishing Goncharov’s novel Oblomov, where the main character literally spends the first part of the story in his bed and his adventurous best friend is his complete opposite, was somehow revelatory. They are the two sides of every human being, two expressions of our will or a lack of it, two moods that reign our thoughts and actions, the two possibilities we’re juggling with all our lives. Continue reading “Two sides to every human”

There is something at the bottom of every new human thought … which can never be communicated to others, even if one were to write volumes about it and were explaining one’s idea for thirty-five years; there’s something left which cannot be induced to emerge from your brain, and remains with you forever; and with it you will die, without communicating to anyone perhaps the most important of your ideas.

Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Idiot

No muses here. Just people.

You’ve heard those stories, right? It’s mine as well. Most of my young life, I’ve read I could be a muse at best. What if I don’t want to stay one? What if I come to realize that position can only give me a restraining passivity and empty adoration, while I don’t desire to be a cold statue, but an alive and kicking humane person?

The muse’s story is not her own, so I refuse to wish to be one. I’ll find my own inspiration in the richness and the beauty of this planet’s surface, the sky above it and the touch of its grounds that penetrate further, of our minds and dreams and sentiments.

Now, I know and read better. I can make my own story with just as burning enthusiasm.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with being a muse, quite the opposite, to be inspiring is a privilege. Nevertheless, I believe it’s wrong to be reduced to one, to shrink one’s existence to a dependence on the other. Continue reading “No muses here. Just people.”

The best reading spots in Paris

There is one eternal criteria that a city has to fulfill for me to really love it. I have to find nice little spots to read, not necessarily in calm, but certainly in ease. Paris nails it. Here, I never had a problem. Of course, there are cafés, but since I’m always on a tight budget, saving money for the next trip or concert, I rather enjoy the free priceless corners. These are probably not just the best reading, but also meditation and observation spots. For me, it comes down to the same thing in the end.

River banks : Absolute favourite. The banks, below the busy streets of St Michel, between Pont Neuf and Notre Dame. In the sun or in a shade, never alone, but somehow peaceful. Or a little further, the banks of Ile St Louis, where people drink their bottle of wine and where you can almost always hear a distant music. I always seem to gain back a certain piece of my mind and soul here.

Parks :  The more or the less touristy ones. Once, I was in love with Jardin de Luxembourg and Tuileries when the season was less crowded. The green metal chairs, overlooking the fountain, children playing, birds hunting for crumbs, people on their lunch breaks, students with their books and debates, selfies and real photo shoots. A whole little world in there. Then I discovered Jardin des Plantes with its botanical diversity and a certain kind of cold laid-back-ness. And later, I stopped being a tourist and devoted myself to the green voluptuousness and real-life feel of Buttes Chaumont and to the small square, down Boulevard Hausmann, a street away from my work where I spent many breaks during spring and summer. Now, I sometimes escape to Parc Monceau, just to change the scene.

Random benches : Sometimes, it’s a bench outside of a museum or even on a bridge (some spectacular views there), a staircase leading to Pantheon or the many ones on the way to Sacre Coeur. Or a bench on the very end of the St Louis Island which used to be my favourite. It depends on a moment, on the mood, on your current itinerary. But when you really need it, you’ll probably find it and then you’ll just sit down and everything will rest and tranquillize itself for a minute, before you rush on again.