Friday, March 31, 2017

Vermeer at the Louvre

The most perfect day in Paris ever. Ever ever. Well, I do exaggerate sometimes, but it was a pretty fabulous day. Started this morning after my friend went to work and I went out to poke around in the junk fair just outside the door, eventually, finally, buying things - a Waterman fountain pen and a sparkly decoration for a friend, for 12 euros. Lynn came home only a few hours later, and we set off to walk and walk and look for a place for a special lunch. Rejected this one, that one, almost stopped several times, and then we found the perfect place - L'Ebauchoir - on a side street, unpretentious but lovely, and - we got the last table. The place was packed; later we read that it's a well known and much-loved bistro - just our luck. Oh it was divine. We intended to have a glass of wine, but somehow, it was a bottle. Here's our main course, and my friend with our adorable waiter. She has eaten in France for 47 years, and pronounced this meal "perfect."

And then walking and shopping and walking and shopping and looking and talking and laughing. We shopped. My friend bought me an inexpensive little sweater, we both bought some summer pants on sale, I bought ink for my new 5 euro Waterman pen. We went to Merci nearby on the Blvd. Beaumarchais, the epicentre of trend but also a really interesting store - housewares, clothes, tools, paper stuff - we had a good time not buying anything. This is me with a nice big basket I liked.
Staggered home to rest for half an hour and dump our parcels before setting out again, to get the bus to the Louvre. Lynn had got us timed tickets for the huge Vermeer exhibition at the Louvre. 
We were dreading the long lines, but at 6.45 p.m. on Friday night, there was almost no wait time and we were in almost right away. Oh, what joy - Vermeer, my favourite artist - twelve, TWELVE, of his rare paintings, surrounded by other Dutch painters of the same time and the same subjects - women at harpsichords, writing letters, with lutes. Despite the crowds and our aching feet, it was overwhelming. There was another exhibition to see at the same time - Valentin de Boulogne, school of Caravaggio.

Glorious. Out into the mild evening, the metro home, and as soon as we got in, the heavens exploded and there was a rainstorm. We had supper in our flat - avocado vinaigrette, potato chips, ham, leftovers, and rosé. In our pyjamas. We walked over 15 kilometres today, Lynn knows because of her fitbit. I am wearing my new sweater and pants and full of food and wine and laughter, grateful for the magnificence of this world, this city in particular, and my beloved, joyful friend most of all.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Pere Lachaise

A gorgeous day, a long walk after a slow morning, off to Pere Lachaise Cemetery - because it's in the 'hood. Of course, once you get there, it's extremely confusing to find famous people, you have to search even for the place that gives out the guides, which in any case really aren't helpful. So French - the place full of people wandering about, completely frustrated! I decided to give up on finding the graves of the many famous people buried here and just wander in the hot sun. It's an oasis of gloomy tranquillity in the metropolis. As in the parks, you can hear the birds.
An ominous raven loomed up on one grave and hopped on the cross. Nevermore.
 I wondered if he regretted that outfit.
 Very dramatic, snake, cross, mossy rocks.
 Some American girls, including one named Sidonie, after Colette, led me here - I couldn't find her. So happy to find one of my writer heroes. I placed a stone on her marble resting place. Someone has left a book of poems dedicated to her.
 Had to find Jim Morrison, tucked in behind many others and behind a barrier, because of the crowds of kids. When I was in Paris with MY kids in about 1993, this was the only thing they wanted to see.
And this is a store that sells construction materials - so beautiful!

Shaena Lambert's workshop on Cortes Island

An old friend, fellow UBC Creative Writing graduate Shaena Lambert, a prize-winning writer of short stories and novels, just wrote to let me know she is teaching a workshop at the beginning of June, at the Hollyhock Retreat on Cortes Island. June 2-7, "Going under the words: writing fiction and memoir." The retreat is a stunning place on a stunning island, and Shaena is a great teacher. Highly recommended.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

fruit, flowers, friends

It's 5; I'm waiting for my friend to get home from work. Did nothing today except flaner, grocery shop and do errands, like buy postcards and face cream, and then a long lunch with old, old friends, Daniel who's 71 and his wife Michele, a former colleague of Dad's who, unbelievably, has just turned 80; her hair just has some strands of grey. We sat outside eating exotic fish. And then I wandered some more. This quartier is wonderful - very few tourists, friendly people, lots to look at. So I look.
I just passed a corner bistro where a woman was eating an artichoke with a glass of wine. Not something you see often in Toronto.
Michele and Daniel. Daniel who's passionately involved in urban renewal just came back from a trip to Detroit to see what's happening there. He said it's beyond belief - mile after mile of bombed-out hell. And not about to get better anytime soon.
The most exotic ranunculus. What is the plural? Ranunculi?

one of the remarkable trees of France

As many of you know, I am an inveterate shopper in junk stores. Never did I think I'd live in the middle of one in Paris - one of the best-known marchés aux puces, le Marché d'Aligre, right outside the door. They start setting up at 6 and people are there to shop right away, almost entirely,  I've noticed in the morning, men. There's an extraordinary jumble of French bits and pieces, African sculptures, old clothes and bedding and books and paintings and ... Could have bought a Hermes portable typewriter that works for 20 euros. Some lovely old dishes. Have bought nothing. It's amazing what the thought of carrying a suitcase does for the shopping.
 Click to enlarge
Yesterday, I went on-line to figure out the bus system; I had to get across town and wanted to take a bus, a much better way to travel than the metro if you're not in a hurry, because the banquet of Paris flashes by outside the windows. I figured out which bus I needed - #29 - and where it went, set out, got lost 4 times just finding the street, and then - the street was one way the wrong way. But finally I found my bus. Getting lost is part of the adventure here, in the rabbit warren of little streets going every which way. I am always lost, and Lynn has no sense of direction at all. But we get around.

After the long ride right through the right bank, had a long walk to the Musee Jacquemart-André, a museum like the Frick, a gorgeous mansion full of great art. There was a special exhibit of the fabulous collection of a Spanish art collector, including this beautiful Toulouse-Lautrec, the Reader, which I photographed from a book. And then, lunch in the humble little café.

Walked to the Parc Monceau that I'd visited once before, a pretty little park where I sat for an hour on a park bench, watching joggers - French joggers! - listening to birds - birds! - and reading the NYT on my phone. Discovered this magnificent tree, officially one of the "remarkable trees of France," a plane tree planted in 1814.
I waited for a bus to take me to Pigalle, where I was meeting Lynn; standing at the stop, a woman from India exclaimed at my colourful jacket, bought for $15 at Doubletake. "And look, there's silver!" she said, touring around me. She told me she'd lived in America and Dubai but here, in Paris, "I have discovered my place, my people. Oh their love of beauty!" We had a great talk about the joys and difficulties of Paris and then my bus came. As I got on, we hugged. "Keep shining," she said.

I will take that as an order.

I'd been invited for an aperitif with a couple from Toronto who have an apartment they rent out in Paris, so was there to say hello and check out the place. It's a nice flat and extremely reasonable, so please get in touch with me if you want more information. Not sure it'll work out for me because it's very far from where Lynn is working, and one of the reasons I come here is to connect with her while she works in Paris. So we'll see. But for someone wanting a reasonably priced and comfortable home in Paris, it's wonderful.

Back home in the crowded metro. It's funny, I'd assumed that Lynn and I would be eating out every night, and instead, by suppertime, I'm tired from a day of walking and she from a day of vetting English speakers, and we dine on ham, cheese, bread, and salad in our little kitchen. While we jabber. We argue a lot about English grammar. Who else can I do that with?

This morning I went to the Franprix across the way to buy groceries - coffee, milk, olive oil. It's a joy to do normal things here, like a French person. Will go next to the vast food market also right outside the door, and then for the most important purchase - wine. My Indian friend is right. I too have discovered my place and my people, except that my place and my people are also in Toronto. No problem with having two places. Or more.

Monday, March 27, 2017

l'internet, pas trop bien

Okay, the internet was working briefly, and then it wasn't. It turns out it's not easy to get good connection in France. So this blog will be sporadic until I'm somewhere where the current is more certain.

The cheese, however, is certain.

we're baaaaack!

Our hostess had to run to the store to get a new modem - and now, we're in touch with the whole world through the little white screen. This addict is happy. In the meantime, I wrote this post this morning:

I had the fantasy that because of the terrorist attacks, tourism in Paris had dropped off and I’d have the city to myself. Ha! Apparently, after the Bataclan, tourism did drop for a while, but I’m here to attest that it’s back. It’s only March, and the city is packed.

On Saturday, a beautiful morning, with a few hours to kill before meeting Lynn at the Gare de Lyon, I walked to the Jardin des Plantes to visit my father. Those who follow this blog know that a few years ago, I brought his ashes to Paris and scattered them at the base of the huge cherry tree in the Jardin, so when I come, I can go bring him up to date. (I scattered my mother at the Canadian Consulate in Trafalgar Square, but both are also in the Necropolis near my home, so I don’t have to go quite so far to say hello.) I had a little weep, there in the hot sun in a lovely park in this glorious city. 
An exhibition at the Jardin des Plantes of Canadian polar bears. (click to enlarge)

At the station, I waited in an armchair in a little lounge area, as someone played the piano behind me - surreal. The sign says, "It's yours to play! The station has put this piano at the disposition of travellers for artistic, fun, and non-monetary purposes."
The French train system is a marvel: Lynn’s TGV fast train was expected from the south at 12.45; it glided in at 12.44. And there she was, my friend since 1967. Another marvel, our friendship, despite the fact that she has lived in France since 1970, the mother of 5 children and now grandmother of 8 and a linguist, a French academic interested in conjunctions and pronouns. And yet we have a great deal in common still, and we laugh like we did as teenagers.

It took some wandering to find the flat in the Bastille district she’d rented for us – right on the Place d’Aligre, where I used to come to the brocante, the junk market. We unpacked and talked and walked and walked and talked. We passed Chez Paul, a restaurant I remembered from my one visit to Paris with my kids, so we stopped and dined there again, outside, mid-afternoon, as incredibly chic people streamed by. We poked about in little boutiques – I bought a t-shirt with a bicycle on it and a scarf. Of course, a scarf, the one accessory you are not allowed without in France.
My beautiful best friend.
I ate here with my kids in 1992 and again on Saturday afternoon.
Our corner bakery.
The view from our window of the Place d'Aligre and its market. Piles of junk, right outside my door.

Sunday, another perfect day, all of Paris out for a walk. We took the metro to the Arc de Triomphe to get the navette, the shuttle bus, to the Fondation Vuitton museum, but once there read the sign: only people with tickets would be allowed on the bus. So we decided to visit next weekend, and instead just flâner – stroll – with a million others, down the Champs-Elysees, stopping to have a sandwich in the Tuileries near the Louvre, a little outdoor restaurant, the sun, ducks swimming nearby, green leaves overhead. And on, through the crowds in the Marais; we walked 14 kilometres to get home. At that point we were too tired to go out for dinner so Lynn made scrambled eggs and we watched TV – American and British shows dubbed into French. The end of a perfect day.
The ferris wheel near the Place de la Concorde.
A celebration of Ecuador shuts down a major street - why? Why not?
 The Hotel de Ville - the humble little town hall.
Today is Monday; Lynn has gone to work – she’s vetting the English skills of possible employees at the Finance Ministry. And I am going to walk and walk and walk. And possibly eat a little something.

A typically humble street scene - from my walk today, around St. Germain, along the river, over to the islands around Notre Dame, then the long walk back to Bastille.

And now - Lynn's day at work went well, and we're going to make a simple supper in the flat. We're drinking a 2012 Faugeres and have ham, cheese, unbelievably good sourdough bread and salad, and we're in Paris. Life doesn't get better than that. 

Sunday, March 26, 2017

The internet where Lynn and I are staying does not work. The landlady hopes to fix it. I'm writing this on my phone. Paris is wonderful. So is lynn. More anon.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

a new woman

It's Saturday March 25 and your faithful correspondent has had ten hours of sleep and a huge breakfast in the hotel, with chunks of the most delicious bread in the world, a lot of coffee and the French television news - there's a vital election going on here. And hooray, Trump goes down to one more defeat. The sun is shining tentatively, and the world awaits. I'm off soon to meet Lynn, my best friend for fifty years - is that possible? - at the train station, and we'll go to the apartment she has rented for us in the Bastille. Is this real? Am I really here? One minute I'm in my kitchen looking at sparrows, the next, in this ancient city devouring fresh crusty bread and reading "L'Officiel des Spectacles," an 170 page booklet of everything that's on in Paris THIS WEEK.

On my list: seeing friends, the Fondation Vuitton museum, the Vermeer exhibition at the Louvre, several other museums, and a shop or two. A meal or two. A certain amount of pleasure.

This, however, taken Friday afternoon in the conservatory at Allen Gardens, is who I've left behind:

Friday, March 24, 2017

jet-lagged afternoon walk

 Montparnasse's La Closerie des Lilas - one of Paris's legendary places for writers. Click to enlarge.
 Luxembourg Garden and its palace with Eiffel Tower peeking through. The sun had vanished and it was cold and damp.
Statues, vistas, and flowers everywhere. This is in Luxembourg Garden; he's a Greek actor learning his lines. I cut off his head to get more flowers. And below - always have to go see her first day, so I'm sure that I'm actually here. Yes, I guess I am, because there she is. Be still, my beating heart.
 Someone, at some point, said, let's build a little ol' fountain to celebrate St. Michel on the Boulevard St. Michel, and this enormous thing resulted.
Ranunculus - my favourite flowers, all over the place.
If I lived nearby, I'd go here every day to get the patron's wine recommendations.
My dinner tonight - at 6.30, the only person in the restaurant, of course, as my eyes were drooping shut - a fantastic ramen place nearby. Perfect for the exhausted stranger on a cold night. With a beer! Wine starts tomorrow.

And now - it's 7.10. I've made it. A quick shower, a sleeping pill and I hope tomorrow I'll be my usual perky self.

the eagle has landed

Sitting in the window of my hotel, tiny hotel, tiny room, noisy street below, but it's one of my fave places in all Paris. They know me, I've stayed here briefly 4 times, and it's my 'hood, the 5th, the Latin Quarter. I'm so woozy I can't think straight, but my face is in the sun as I sit at the window and type, and that's what matters. After a hideous night of no sleep, I have to keep myself awake till about 7 Paris time; then I take a sleeping pill and will be on the road to recovery the next day.

God I love this city, the elegance, the vast array of riches on display - fruit, cheese, wine, chocolate, all my favourite things. Elegant people and shops. Also dog shit everywhere, still!, homeless people camping on the street, beggars. It's spring - cherry blossoms and daffodils, the trees in bud or green already.

The flight was, in a word, horrible - on time, efficient staff, but ye gods, it's unpleasant in Air Canada economy. I was hoping for an empty seat next to me, but there wasn't an empty seat anywhere on the plane, the seats are small and hardly recline, it's a kind of torture for seven long hours, no sleep, sitting squashed and upright. But that's the price we pay for Europe.

At the airport, a small victory for moi. The Parisians like to torment their newly-arrived guests; when people go to the station at the airport to get the metro into Paris, the best and quickest way to get to the city, there are machines to buy your train tickets, and thousands of confused tourists lined up in front of them, taking forever because they don't understand. Is there anyone around to help? Of course not. But the last time I was here, two years ago, I got a round trip ticket when I went to the airport to go home, so I walked by the giant lineup, fished out my ticket and got on the train. Oh boy did I feel savvy.

I got to the hotel and went out again for a bite to eat on the rue Mouffetard - sat outside with a coffee and a quiche, then went to my bakery for a pain au chocolat, the taste of my childhood time in Paris. Wandered, seeing which stores are still there and which are not. But I can't write more now, my brain is a fuzzball; I am literally dizzy with fatigue. I'm going out again, over to the Boulevard St. Michel and the Jardins du Luxembourg, just keep myself walking until I collapse.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

almost gone

9 a.m. Canadian scene #2642: sparrows on my deck pecking at the last little patch of snow, the garden a vista of green, grey and brown, but so much life waiting beneath. When I get back April 23, it'll be starting to burst.

I'm more or less packed; my suitcase weighs 32 pounds, but that's with some gifts, including children's books for the small people I'll be visiting and a heavy pot of peanut butter for Lynn. Son Sam came over to say goodbye and is asleep upstairs; later I'll meet Anna and the boys, have lunch with all my nearest and dearest. Yesterday, the English conversation circle - Nurun, Foyzun and other new friends. Then Carole's class at the Y, a gathering of old friends, some I've known nearly 30 years, sweating around the gym. Lunch with Ken, who at 81 is as lively as anyone I know, though with a big scab on his head from a melanoma cut out recently. I told him I'd been to the shrink and the doctor, so had taken care of my body and mind. "And now," he said, "you're going to France for your soul."

This morning, waking up in my room with its row of framed portraits facing the bed - Beethoven, Matisse, Colette, Paul McCartney, my great-grandmother Anna, and other notables. My British grandmother's sewing basket, my childhood books, my mother's teddy bear Donald Leonard Brown and her china doll Janet - the comfort of beloved artifacts, of familiarity. Tomorrow morning, I'll be groggy at the end of the long flight, about to emerge into adventure, glad to leave responsibilities behind for a few weeks - house, tenants, children and grandchildren, students, editing clients, garden, conversation circle, Y, piano lessons, and all the rest (though not writing). Just me in the wide world - with, of course, a computer and smartphone, my Canadian life a finger's touch away. Thank God.

More sparrows have discovered the snow. This I will not see in Paris. My flight doesn't leave till 9.45 tonight. It will be a long day.

So my friends, my dear bloggees, I bid you farewell. Hope you will come along for the journey - Paris with Lynn, Provence and Montpellier with Denis, Nice with Bruce, and a week in London alone though with a visit from Penny. Not a bad little jaunt for an old bag.

Onward. Or as they say in the country with the cheese, En avant!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017


Another stunning day - a girl could get used to this. People outside in shirtsleeves. I just ran into JM and Richard, who said, "How can you leave weather like this?" Oh, but I can. Or at Pierre Elliot Trudeau once said, "Just watch me!"

Had a tuneup and a check-up this morning, the first with my shrink, whom I see now once or twice a year to touch base, let her know how I am, get advice - she's the ideal mother, calm, accepting, and completely trustworthy, and she knows me better than anyone on earth. Today we were reminiscing about my visits to her during the early days of the divorce, when I was a terrified, depressed, unemployed single mother of two fairly difficult kids in a falling down house. Things, shall we say, have changed. Thank the good lord.

Then to get myself checked out with my GP, a wonderful tall woman with big feet, also rather like my mother, only also supportive and trustworthy. We talk about having big feet a lot, as she pokes and prods. All seems well so far. Fingers and toes crossed.

End of the Ryerson term last night - another very interesting group. Today a bunch of emails I will post here because they say nice things, so why not? Obviously, the people who didn't like the class did not send notes. The first is from a young woman who's getting married in April and announced that she's coming back to take the course again in September.
I LOVED the class. It's one of the best things I have ever done for myself. I didn't feel a burning need to tell a secret story, but just wanted to find a creative outlet and I have always loved to write. It's such a great forum. Going to take the summer off and enjoy it, but can't wait to start up again! 

You were so very genuine in your approach without babying us. You have a wonderful sense of humour. I will miss my Monday nights and look forward to reading your memoir when it is published. 

It has a been such a wonderful experience sharing and growing through your wonderful class. Thank you for creating a supportive environment where we could all feel free to share - it has truly been a liberating experience.

Good to read these as I sit in a patch of sunlight, with my laundry drying outside on the deck.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

la Boucanerie Chelsea

My Aunt Do is truly amazing. I don't think there can be many other nearly-97-year olds who live alone in their own apartments, taking care of everything themselves except for a caregiver who comes in once a week, to drive her to get groceries and clean. She doesn't want help with anything, because she thinks doing for herself is what has given her such staying power. And I guess she's right. 
It was such a stunningly beautiful Saturday that I said let's go for a drive, and once in downtown Ottawa, I realized where we should go - to my brother's shop, la Boucanerie Chelsea in the Gatineau, which he bought a few years ago and Do had never seen. It's a wonderful place where he brines and smokes salmon,  sturgeon, and other fish and sells all kinds of gourmet treats. We had a tour and left with a bag full of goodies which the security guys at the Ottawa airport had a good time with today - what's THIS on the x-ray machine? A big chunk of hot smoked salmon. Mmmm.

Do and my brother Mike.

I took her for dinner afterward as an advance birthday present and actually got her to drink a small glass of red wine, as we talked, of course, about family. She said, heartbreakingly, that she felt her mother didn't like her, starting at birth because she was a baby with a lot of black hair, and then later, not as pretty and smart as her sisters. That is, smart in a different way that wasn't recognized by her parents. She has struggled all her life with low self-esteem. But now - she wins! She's the last one standing. Go Do go!

This morning I did my usual walk in Britannia Park - another brilliant sunny day. So much crunchy clean white snow. Love this sign by the beach.
Now, a few days left to get myself together, to NOT get the cold that's trying to invade - both Anna and my tenant Carol have bad colds - and to somehow blow this pop stand. At this stage, it's always hard to believe it's going to happen. But I have the distinct feeling that it will.

Friday, March 17, 2017


Okay, getting close to crazy time - leaving in less than a week for a 3-week jaunt around Europe, including the metropoli of Paris and London - one incredibly chic, the other almost certainly cold and wet - and the south of France which is chic and warm, and to visit my friend Denis who is the furthest thing from chic and will want to go on hikes up hill and down dale. What to pack? No idea. Underpants and socks, that much I know, and an umbrella.

I know you do not want to hear me whine. So I won't.

The big news is that I let the latest draft of the new memoir out of my grasp, shoved it into the grasp of Colin Thomas, my editor in Vancouver, who has allotted me a couple of days in early April. I had to send it - I was fiddling, obsessed, many hours, as Oscar Wilde said, taking out a comma and putting it back in again. I know it's better than it was, but I suspect it's still not good enough. I read good writers and despair, and then I hear myself adjuring my students to buck up, and try to do the same for myself. What a crazy business. Have I said that before? Met for coffee today with dear friend Rosemary Shipton, master editor and founder of the hugely successful Ryerson publishing program. We both marvelled that the writing business is falling apart, almost nobody makes any money, and yet writers and publishers are more numerous than ever.

On Tuesday, Uncle Sam brought his nephew Eli over to hang out at Glamma's house. What a treat, two of my 3 favourite men on the planet, the third being somewhat smaller. Sam made a big spaghetti dinner for the 3 of us and Wayson, my fourth favourite. Eli looked around the table and said, "There are 2 young people and 2 old people." And I said, "If you want to be invited back, watch your tongue." LOL.

On Wednesday, the conversation circle in Regent Park - it's thrilling to meet women who normally would not cross my path and will change my mind about a lot of things.
Four of these women are from Eritrea and Bangladesh, two from Canada, and one an immigrant born in New York City; several who wear niqab had left already. One is holding a poster about the fight for the $15 minimum wage. Another had 8 children by the age of 28, and then her husband died. I am learning a great deal about other ways of looking at the world.

Tomorrow I fly to Ottawa to take Auntie Do out for dinner. She will be 97 in a few weeks and I'll be away. But I'll be able to bring her favourite Neal's Yard face cream back from London.

Here's a hilarious video about a new tranquillizer that we all need. Cheers.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Etgar Keret, my new crush

Huge moments of pleasure on a cold and snowy day: this morning, looking out at the all-white landscape, and there, an impossibly scarlet cardinal and his pretty brown and red wife, pecking at my feeder. Later, talking with my Vancouver friend Nettie Wild, staying here for the weekend, whose film Koneline for some incomprehensible and unjust reason did not win Best Documentary at the Canadian Film Awards on Sunday night, but who was there and had stories to tell before flying home. And cheesy though some of it may have been, as I watched the awards on TV, still, the Canadian diversity celebrated on that stage was impressive - black actors, Asian actors, First Nation actors, Quebecois filmmakers speaking French, Christopher Plummer who is as old as time and still magnificent and very funny ... Rick Mercer talked about the phenomenon of Canadian humour. "It's one of our greatest exports," he said, "between canola and asbestos."

Tonight, a great class at Ryerson, coming home ready to snack on the superb goat cheddar by Black River Cheese, from Maddoc, Ontario, I've recently discovered and had taken out of the fridge, ready for my palate. To discover that Carol, my tenant and friend, had made turkey-vegetable soup and left a note for me to help myself. A bowl of soup, a glass of wine, a large slice of sourdough bread and cheese, and a beautiful, hopeful op-ed by Timothy Egan in the NYT, seeing light in our dark time, while the snow glistens outside - all I can say is yes. Yes and yes and yes.

On Sunday, I went to the Toronto Reference Library, their fantastic program of writers being interviewed, free tickets, to hear the Israeli writer Etgar Keret.
I very rarely look at a man and say, Please come home with me. But I said that to Mr. Keret. Unfortunately, surrounded by his admirers, he didn't hear me, and in any case, he's happily married. Aren't they all. It was a fantastic interview, funny and wise. He told us he is the child of Holocaust survivors and spent his childhood making sure he never caused any pain to his mother, who'd had too much pain in her life already. So, he made clear, his devilish side, adventures, rebellions, all had to be carried out on paper. I've heard many reasons for becoming a writer, but that's one of the most interesting. He told us his wife asked him once why there are so many unfaithful men in his stories. He told her, would you prefer me not to write about it and actually BE unfaithful? He said that though he adores his wife, of course he meets women and fantasizes, and then immediately goes and writes a story, and that's that.

What a guy.

I've ordered his new memoir, Seven Good Years, from the library, and look forward to reading it when I get back from France. OMG, should not have brought that up. Panic. I have to get ready, and there is too much to do.