Weekend Coffee Share: A Poet in Paris.

“A leaf fluttered in through the window this morning, as if supported by the rays of the sun, a bird settled on the fire escape, joy in the task of coffee, joy accompanied me as I walked.”

Anais Nin

Welcome to Sydney for a bit of a late night decaf. It’s virtually midnight here so I wouldn’t recommend caffeine. That is, unless you’re just waking up, which could very well be the case.

I am pleased to report  that the book project has taken a huge step forward this week and is gaining substance and structure. As my book project is non-fiction, I’ve decided not to take part in Nano this month but after reading all these posts about writing thousands of words a day, I felt inspired. My book project has been in some kind of extended coma and before they decide to switch off the life support, I really wanted to throw myself into it. I have an incredible story to tell. Surely, I can get it told?!!

Researching the book, I found myself reading through the journal I wrote as a 21 year old staying at the Hotel Henri IV at 25 Rue Dauphine and performing my poetry at the Shakespeare and Company Bookshop. Naturally, I couldn’t leave Paris out of my story even if the city of love in my case (no doubt like so many), turned into the city of heartbreak.

I was reading my journal and looking at my photos mentally trying to retrace my steps through the narrow streets to a cafe we went to somewhere on the left bank. Being backpackers, we went there because the coffee was cheap and you didn’t have to pay extra to sit outside. That we drank our coffee from plastic cups, didn’t seem to matter. There were backpackers there from all over the world and such a lively, vibrant atmosphere. That’s what we were there for.

However, even though I went to that cafe virtually every day we were in Paris, I can’t find it. I have a terrible sense of direction and I was walking round and round inside my head not getting anywhere. So, I decided to find a street map online. I Googled our Hotel and the next thing I knew, I was flying over the rooftops with my magic umbrella. It was so surreal. Switching to pedestrian view, I actually landed and was standing in front of our hotel and I turned around and saw Place Dauphine. I can’t tell you how that felt. It really blew me away. Suddenly, those photos I’d taken 22 years ago were no longer just fragments but part of a panorama. I walked to the corner and there was Pont Neuf. Before I knew it, I was zooming through the streets with oncoming traffic heading towards me. Seemingly, even going through me. It was feeling a bit like Mario Kart WII meets roadrunner and I was invincible.

I was fully immersed in Paris.

I know this isn’t exactly new technology but I’d never thought of using it to revisit Paris like this and I certainly didn’t expect it to feel so real. I was there and yet I wasn’t. It felt incredibly freaky, a bit exhilarating and it’s filled in a lot of gaps, especially in where my photos were taken.

Outside a patisserie in Rue de Buci.

Outside a patisserie in Rue de Buci.

Anyway, all of this “research” has felt like I’ve somehow manged to construct that elusive time machine. I might not have mastered how to go forward but I’m certainly doing well in reverse.

However, my time travels do not end here.

I was going through my journal and while it’s mostly my ramblings, friends and I suspect even strangers, have added drawings. I’d forgotten all about these and am not even sure how they got there. However, that was also where I found an address for the American guys we’d spent a lot of time with. I didn’t even bother checking if it was still current but a Google search dished up an email address. I know it’s been 22 years and it must seem a bit crazy to get in touch but we knew them pretty well and back in the day, we didn’t have email or Facebook to handle these long-distance friendships. AS much as it was great to receive overseas mail, it was a pain to send. I know it’s silly. The post office is just down the street and yet it might as well be on the moon!

I sent the email and much to my delight. I receive a reply…and some photos attached. I was thrilled. My friend was really pleased to hear from me and it’s been a real buzz! So exciting!

So, all of this “research” has transformed a fairly ordinary week into an incredible adventure.

Returning to the home front, our son returned from his Canberra Excursion. He returned with a husky voice and said the highlight was going to The Mint and he said he saw the Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull. His teacher gave me a thumbs up so that was a relief. Bilbo, our Border Collie, is on a reducing dose of prednisone to treat his flea allergy and is improving except his appetite is incredible He is starving. He’s lost a lot of weight so we give him a bit extra. It’s just awful to see him going through this and not being able to explain what’s happening. We’re now on the countdown to my end of year violin concert so I’m madly trying to practice. We’re performing Pirates of the Caribbean and Eine Kleine Nacht Musik.  Our daughter is also off to rehearsals weekly as she’s appearing in a mass choir at School Spectacular at the Sydney Entertainment Centre. Then there’s the dance concert coming up. Mister is off at another Scout Camp to prepare Jamboree in January. Geoff starts work at 4.00AM tomorrow morning so I’d better get to bed before he wakes up!

I hope you’ve had a great week! Are you doing the Nano Challenge? If so, let me know how it’s going. I’ve pretty much decided not to read these but I might pick the odd one.

Now, how about you go and visit Diana at Part-Time Monster http://parttimemonster.com/  and here’s the linky: http://www.inlinkz.com/new/view.php?id=580243

Anyway, I hope you’ve enjoy our coffee and perhaps you have a few memories or stories to share of Paris. I’d love to hear them!

xx Rowena

17 thoughts on “Weekend Coffee Share: A Poet in Paris.

  1. Melissa @ Ever Growing Farm

    Good morning (or afternoon/evening, as it might be)! I love the idea of flying over and through cities and towns I haven’t visited in years via Google maps! Such a fun way to job a memory (or so very many memories)!

    Best of luck with your writing this week! Have a good one!

  2. Corina

    There are a lot of people writing non-fiction during NaNoWriMo. You should have signed up. You still can! It’s not too late. The first year I won NaNoWriMo was with a memoir. So yeah, you can totally do fiction!

  3. trentpmcd

    Any excuse to go back to Paris is a good excuse, even if it’s a virtual trip. I’ve been 3 times – spring 2001, winter 2002 and spring 2011. I’m ready to return! I hope you make it back there in the flesh in less than 22 years! I know, it’s a much, much longer trip for you than me.

  4. Ally Bean

    Your adventure in Paris this week is inspired. Brilliant idea… which makes me wonder if I could take a little adventure to London, should I be able to find the name of the hotel we stayed in when I was there as a student. Thanks for the idea.

  5. Daisy Smiley Face

    I LOVE THIS! So much. And I love looking back at journals and doing what you’re doing and it’s even so much cooler now with the Internet! I write non-fiction and so I do the same thing. Can’t wait to read what you’re writing! 🙂

  6. Diana

    What an interesting week! Sounds like you’ve had lots of adventures just from your computer, which is always fun. 🙂

    Hope Bilbo is feeling better soon!

  7. Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

    I love the time travel aspect of memory. I’m presenting a paper on it at the AAWP conference in Melbourne later this month. How amazing that after 22 years you have been able to catch up with someone you met whilst travelling. I’ve never been to Paris — it is a city people either seem to love or hate. Unfortunately my husband is one of the latter so whenever we travel to Europe Paris is never on the itinerary. I’ll look forward to reading your memoir. The memories that walking the streets after 22 years (on google) sound as though they are going to be rich and wonderful to read.
    Glad Canberra went well for your son and what an honour that your daughter is singing. I went to one years and years ago and it was truly magnificent. I’m tired just reading your families activities. Glad to hear Bilbo is on the improve.

  8. Norah

    Best wishes for your book. I’m pleased you have decided to keep the life support switched on. Where there’s life there’s hope. 🙂
    Loved your virtual visit to Paris. The patisserie looks familiar, but maybe they all look the same. I may need to make a similar trip.
    This time of year always gets hectic. It sounds like you have a lot to do. Look after yourself and your loved ones.

  9. Nooce Miller

    I love it that you found a time machine in your 21-year-old self’s diaries and the magic of Google Maps street view. I will have to try that with places I traveled to long ago, although my diaries from then are pathetic. They typically begin with good intentions and end on page 3 or 4! NaNo is going well for me. I’d like to be ahead at this point, because I will be traveling to visit my sister at the end of the month, but I’m at least hitting the daily target to finish by Nov. 30th, so I guess I should be satisfied for that. I’d hoped to be able to do NaNo in the mornings and revisions to my current revisions in process (a different book) in the afternoon, but I’m writing more slowly than normal for some reason. I will redouble my efforts this week.

    It sounds like your son had a lovely time on his trip. Mass choirs and dance concerts and scout camps, not to mention your violin performance — as Irene said above, your family is so busy it wears me out just to think of doing all that! The music for your concert sounds marvelous. You’ll have to be sure to tell us how it goes when the date comes!

  10. roweeee Post author

    Thanks very much, Nooce. The diaries are certainly proving extremely interesting both for what they say and what they don’t and how that relates to my memories.
    Well done with Nano and your other work. You’re sounding very productive.
    I might have to post a recording of the concert performance. It’s actually starting to come together xx Rowena

  11. Nooce Miller

    I’m sure everyone in the weekend coffee share would love to hear a recording! If it isn’t too much bother. I’m always amazed at musical people and what they can do.

  12. roweeee Post author

    How is it going, Dale? I think I made the right decision not to take part but I have made considerable progress, inspired by the Nano plans of others xx Rowena

  13. roweeee Post author

    You’re welcome, Ally. I managed to retrace my steps via Google maps and have got back in touch with a friend. It was so incredibly real.Of course, this has left me shellshocked after the attack on Paris on Friday night. I tend to respond very personally to events on the news but after immersing myself in Paris for two weeks, its been awful. I’ve written a few posts as a bit of a catharsis.
    Take care and keep me posted on your journey xx Rowena

  14. Dale

    Oh dear… not well at all. I have been too busy to apply myself…hoping this week will be able to go full on!

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