Posts Tagged ‘Odette and Aime’

Book Project

November 5, 2022

So.

Here I am again.

Thinking about publishing a book.

But this time it is different.

This time I am ready.

Ten years ago I moved to Paris.

I moved to Paris to “become a writer.”

The truth was.

I already was a writer.

I had been a writer for decades.

I was on the cusp of turning 40 when I moved to Paris.

I am on the cusp of turning 50 now.

If you had told me that I wouldn’t really be looking at being published for a decade after moving to Paris.

Well.

Fuck.

I would burst into tears and likely thrown myself off the cutest nearest bridge.

Good thing I didn’t know.

Hell.

I had no idea ten years ago that instead of becoming a published writer, which, by the way, I am published–my dissertation was published on ProQuest on August 8th–I was to become a therapist.

I had no idea what Paris was going to hold for me.

It was terrifying, cold, heart breaking, wet–it rained a lot, and it snowed!

I got lost all the time–sometimes literally, often figuratively.

I spent a lot of time in churches–they are heated to a nice toasty warm that I would often find myself seeking reprieve from the weather in.

I wrote.

All the fucking time.

I wrote three, sometimes four, times a day.

I edited and re-hashed and re-organized a memoir.

I wrote short stories, poemss, blogs.

I wrote in my journal (s).

There ended up being many, many, many journals–all of which I still have.

I wrote in the morning.

I wrote in the afternoon–in cafes, my favorite being Odette & Aime.

Which was just around the corner on 46 Rue Maubege, I lived at 18 Rue Bellefond.

I would sit for hours in the cafe and sip at tap water and a cafe Allonge–which is basically a black coffee.

I was so poor.

Tit mouse poor.

Starving artist poor.

Hemingway in A Moveable Feast poor.

But like, Hemingway made it sexy.

I was not sexy.

I couldn’t often afford a cafe creme–thus the Allonge–I would eat lunch from the Monoprix–basically a Walgreens with a bit of a supermarket in it.

Lunch would be a single serving piece of cheese and a packet of peanuts.

Often accompanied by an apple I would buy from the Friday market around Square D’Anvers.

Once I treated myself to sausages, heaven, at the Friday market but only once–they were rabbit and to die for.

Breakfast was apple in oatmeal and milk.

Dinners were often from the roti chicken place down the street by the Metro entrance for the Cadet stop.

Not the fancy place up the road that was Monsieur Dufrense.

But the Halal place, the owner was sweet, the chicken was cheap.

I could make one of those last a good four days, sometimes five.

I worked under the table, nanny, dog walker, baby sitter, English tutor.

I took French classes that a friend in Chicago wired me money to go and do.

I walked everywhere, when I wasn’t on the Metro, which I used frequently as I had a Navigo monthly pass.

There were times, especially when I was doing baby sitting outside the periphery, that I realized, no one, not a single person, not a soul, knew where I was.

I was baby sitting in the ghetto, the low income housing, taking three trains to do an under table gig that basically paid 8 Euro an hour.

I walked past drug deals, prostitution, gambling places.

I walked briskly like I knew where I was going.

Irony.

The place was located on Rue Victor Hugo.

Sounds hella romantic.

Was hella sketchy.

I remember once taking a picture of the street lights reflecting in the rain, once, on a very early morning commute from my place in the 9th arrondisement to outside the periphery, at like 7a.m.

It was a gorgeous shot, the light, the reflection on the sidewalk, the darkness, the sheen.

I got so many comments on social media after I posted it….so pretty, so Paris, so exciting, lucky you, living the dream!

Sure.

The dream.

Which was actually a nightmare.

Scary, cold, intense, broke as fuck.

Taking an elevator up 9 floors in a tenement in the ghetto outside of Paris.

The kids were sweet, but they didn’t have books, they like to watch the Mickey Mouse Club.

The tv was their babysitter, except when I was there, I insisted on taking them outside.

The park in the middle of the low income houses.

I would watch them race around on their cheap plastic little scooters and stare at the clouds in the sky.

What the hell was I doing with my life?

Query another agent, send off another book proposal, watch my thin stash of Euros in my wallet slowly get a tiny bit bigger, after baby sitting, or tutoring, or house sitting, quietly buying my apples and peanuts and Halal chicken, and then have to pay a week’s rent where I was staying–in a one bedroom lofted apartment where I slept in the living room on a fold out futon that must have been 25 years old, it was so hard.

I didn’t usually have the month’s rent.

But I would pay week to week to week.

Living on peanuts and apples.

Like I said.

Hemingway made it much sexier.

So.

Ten years later.

Many adventures since.

So many adventures.

I am sitting in my very cozy, very pretty, one bedroom apartment in Hayes Valley in San Francisco.

I have a successful private practice therapy business.

I own a car.

A new one.

I have traveled back to Paris, and will do so again in December to celebrate my 50th birthday with a new tattoo from my favorite tattoo shop–Abraxas on Rue Beauborg in the Marais, where I will also be staying a beautiful and hip Air BnB, also in the Marais.

I will buy myself dresses this time instead of packets of peanuts.

I will buy notebooks from Claire Fontaine.

I will go to many museums.

And not on the free days.

I will have a lot of cafe cremes, and not a single Allonge.

I will eat a chicken from Monsieur Dufrense and an actual meal at Odette & Aime.

Also.

I will eat my birthday dinner at my favorite restaurant La Cantine du Troquet on Rue de Grenelle.

I will celebrate a dear friend’s wedding anniversary the day before–having become amazing friends in my Master’s in Psychology program, I have stayed at her family home in the Marais and as she will be celebrating, I will be at my Air BnB just a five minute walk from her home.

I will go to my favorite cafe, Cafe Charlot, which is open on Christmas.

I will be there for Christmas as well as my birthday.

I will take photographs and write, like I always do.

Although.

Hopefully I will not be writing agents to query them about a memoir, just writing in general, after scoring a few of my favorite notebooks, a small stack, at least five, maybe more.

I will instead be querying agents now about my book proposal.

Not exactly a memoir, but in a sense very much so, but with a different scope, seen through the lens of my dissertation, with beautiful photographs not take by me on my phone, but by the professional photographer I am meeting with next week for coffee in Petaluma–Sarah Deragon with Portraits to the People.

She did my headshots for my website and I adore her work.

I queried her if she would be interested in collaborating with me and I got a yes.

I’ve got some work to do before I see her.

Sketch out the book better, mock something up.

Cut and paste and write.

See.

I keep coming back to the writing.

Which is what I am doing, here, now.

Practicing.

I’m not exactly out of practice, I still journal every day, did it today, I’ll do it tomorrow.

But.

I haven’t been blogging in a while.

Time to polish the chops and sit at the keyboard and see where my meandering brain takes me.

I had not thought that it would be a time travel back to Paris ten years ago, I don’t often know where this page is going to take me, but take me it does.

I figured that the best way to put together my book proposal and manuscript was to open my blog and write my intentions and start from here.

I don’t know how exactly to get an agent.

But there’s Google for that.

I do know my dissertation is a mighty fine academic piece, but it’s not a book ready piece.

No one, well, my dissertation committee did, wants to read my Method and very few people are going to be interested in my Lit review, but there’s some juicy stuff in there.

Dramatic.

Traumatic.

Sexy.

Sad.

Transformative.

Pain.

Story.

There’s story and it’s good story and it’s got scandal.

And who doesn’t like scandal?

I’m going to risk it all and put it all out there with transparency and honesty and integrity.

And hopefully, someone will bite.

I want to do a kind of coffee table art house photography book with my poems, essays, blogs, memoir excerpts, and pictures of my transformation alongside the story of what I discovered with my research in my dissertation.

I also will write an epilogue with new insights.

The transformative tattoo; Walking towards joy.

Coming to you soon.

Fingers crossed.

Are You There God?

November 4, 2015

It’s me Margaret.

I mean Carmen.

I mean.

Where the fuck is my passport?!

Ugh.

l can’t find it and um, bwhahahahahahaha.

I uh, kind of need it.

Because this lady is going to Paris for Christmas!

Oh.

My.

God.

Oh.

My.

Fucking.

God.

I can’t believe this is happening.

My ticket cost $500, the prices jumped between yesterday and today and my friend asked me to contribute to offset the miles and what was I going to say, no?

Please.

A round trip ticket from SFO to Charles de Gaulle for $500.

I would be insane to not do that.

I cut him a check on the spot and I’m off to Paris.

Flying out December 20th and returning the 27th.

Six nights in the City of Lights at Christmas.

Dreamy.

I have goosebumps thinking of it.

My friend only asked that I be flexible, I like planning and figuring things out and having an agenda and doing all the things and well, he’s a little more spontaneous.

And I am so cool with that.

I do not care.

Yes.

There are places I want to go and people I want to see, but I don’t have to have an agenda.

I have been to Paris three times, this will mark my fourth time going.

Four.

How lucky am I?

Plus, my dear friend, my dear Parisian friend, from my masters program at CIIS, will also be in Paris visiting her family the 19th through the 29th.

She joked about doing papers in a cafe.

I think not.

I am not doing homework in Paris.

Oh.

I will write.

That’s a part of what I do.

No matter what the writing will happen.

And the buying of notebooks will happen too.

I am excited to visit the Papetrie’s, I need new Marie Clare notebooks.

I flipped through them all this morning before going to work.

I have looked for my passport one other time, I don’t even recall why, I haven’t had cause to do any traveling outside the United States since I moved to Paris three years ago the first of November 2012.

Three years ago I was in Paris, probably lost and hungry, cold and wet, and trying to figure out which way to go on a map.

I got lost a lot, but I always did find my way home.

Home, fingers crossed, I haven’t confirmed it yet with my host, will be a studio in the 7eme. ¬†Which is near the Eiffel Tower.

A place my friend insists on seeing and going to the top of.

Something I have never actually done.

I have taken a horse-drawn carriage around it once.

And once, my first time there, I got lost and separated from the family I was traveling with and climbed the stairs to the second level trying to find them, but I never got to the top.

I will this time.

And I will make sure to walk around it at night when it lights up.

Especially since the studio is so close to the tower.

I know the woman from my time in Paris and she made me a really nice deal.

50 Euro a night.

My friend and I will split the cost of the studio and for about $650 I will have flight and accommodations.

Thank you very much.

Now.

Where the hell is my passport?

I went through every notebook, especially all the ones from my last time in Paris and looked for it, I scouted out all the obvious spots.

I live in a studio, there’s not a lot of places to look.

And I have looked once before.

I ransacked my place, neatly, I didn’t make a mess, and I did discover some sweet photos that I had forgotten I had, but I did not find my passport.

I wrote a little note and I dropped it into my God box.

Yes.

That’s right.

I have one of those.

I like using it, it always works and it clears my head and you know, I’m a little eclectic and my God box is actually a magenta pink rabbit that I bought in the Marais district of Paris from a store that was near to the tattoo shop my friend worked out of–Abraxasis.

I dropped the note then e-mailed my friend in Oakland who was letting me stay at his place until I was settled here in my in-law.

Because that is the last place I can remember having my hands on it.

I spent sometime trying to see where it was in my mind.

I had it in my wallet when I first got back from Paris and remember stumbling across it at some point when I was digging out a card from the divider and realized it probably wasn’t the best idea to carry my passport on my person in East Oakland.

I can recall sitting on the bed in the room at Graceland and pulling the passport out of my wallet and then putting it in something, a book, a notebook, a file and stacking it with some other bits and pieces of paperwork on the secretariat in the room.

That’s the last time I can remember having it.

I also remember thinking to myself that I might be squirreling it away too well.

That I might forget where I put it.

And voila.

I fucking did.

I’m not going to beat myself up about it.

Instead, I sent my friend a message and hopefully it’s there in the room, maybe in the drawer of the little desk.

If it’s not.

Well.

Thank God there’s an embassy here and I will go down to it with all the pertinent documents and pay the expedited fee to get one in five days.

I don’t want to, I would rather the money to spend in cafes on postcards, notebooks, dinners out–nothing fancy, my friend, too cute, “I don’t want to go anywhere fancy for food.”

Neither do I.

Although I do want to go to Odette and Aime for dinner one night, it’s not fancy, and it’s the cafe I spent the most amount of time in, since it was on the same block where I lived, it’s just good home-made food and it will be nice to see my old stomping grounds.

I’m going, going.

Back, back.

To Paris.

Over the moon.

I am over the fucking moon.

Best Christmas present ever.

I might just have to pinch myself.

It doesn’t seem real.

But I’m going.

I’ll send you postcards.

Promise.

Sealed with a bisous

Or.

Two.


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