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Monthly Archives: May 2012

WHO ARE YOU PRETENDING TO BE ON YOUR TRIP?

At the beginning of the film The Closet, a photo is being taken of all the people working at this firm and the photographer keeps asking everyone to move in more tightly in order to get everyone in the picture.  Eventually, one man , Francois, just steps out of the picture, revealing his ” non-existent” personality,  and the photo is taken.  Shortly after, we learn that this man whose personality is incredibly bland,  will be fired.  Not only is he ignored by the employees and management, his son refuses to see him also.   Extremely depressed, he considers suicide.    However,  a psychologist who lives in the same building,  interrupted his suicidal attempt and told him how to get his job back:  he must pretend he is homosexual.

When a photo of him dressed for a homosexual party is mysteriously passed around the office,  the employees are soon regarding him no longer as a boring person but someone who has been leading a rather daring, private life.  And he is employed again since the boss didn’t want to look politically incorrect and fire a homosexual!

There were many humorous situations as one of the employees who was “homophobic” has been ordered to befriend this “homosexual” so that now he won’t be fired!

What I found fascinating was how  this timid man became more assertive even approaching the boss  to defend his manager.  He became more mentally tough since he didn’t step out of his homosexual role even after he was beaten by some men because they thought he was gay.  His son wanted to see him again because he began thinking his father was a more interesting person than he thought!

After I watched this film, I began to wonder if many people like to travel because they can pretend to be someone other than what they are at home.  Is it possible to be quiet and shy at home and be gregarious and verbose when travelling?  I speculate that this is possible only if we are travelling alone and not with people we know since we would be hindered by what others typically expect us to do.

And yet, if we follow life coachs’ instructions to make a list of the type of character qualities we would like to possess, travelling may still be a perfect opportunity to practice those qualities.  Where else would you be placed in a variety of situations in a short period of time to practice character-building qualities?  A typical list of qualities would probably include being assertive, patient, observant, relaxed, adaptable, and happy.    It just takes one day of being jet lagged, hungry and lost to necessitate applying those qualities!

Unfortunately, rather than allowing travelling to transform us, too many people allow traveling merely to reveal their weaknesses.  If a person is already impatient, you can assume she is the person losing her temper with a sales lady  who has been too slow  serving her.  If she is intolerant, she is the one insisting that her salad be served first rather than after her entree.  If she is not flexible, she is the one shouting at the hotel clerk when she discovers that her room only has a shower and not a bath.

In the movie The Closet, the film concludes with the yearly photo outside.  This time when the photographer is trying to get everyone into his frame, our hero does not allow himself to be pushed out of the photo.  Our hero must have embraced Cary Grant’s comment about transformation:  “I pretended to be somebody I wanted to be until finally I became that person. Or he became me.”

Perhaps, whenever we travel, we need to ask ourselves, “Who do I want to pretend to be on this trip?”  I know I am not like Cary Grant whose comment infers that he met his goal of becoming the person he pretended to be. The problem is that age and circumstances continually challenge my transformation.  My husband and I have been discussing how we keep seeing people as they get older become  intolerant,  impatient and quick to anger.  As we are now becoming that older person, I need to challenge myself on our trip to practice tolerance, patience and humour!

I know that my greatest weakness is requiring a very clean and presentable place to stay in when I am traveling.  Can I pretend to be adaptable in this area and respond accordingly if I am disappointed by our rented apartment.  I imagine myself entering  our  rented apartment taken aback by how small it is.  I walk into this bachelor suite and notice  that our kitchen table must be unfolded each time we use it,  that any bread crumbs that  slip onto the floor is  right beside our bed so that quickly we will have bread crumbs inside our sheets. I walk into the bathroom and gasp as I see black mold in the shower.  As I look at this dreary room,  I wonder what we missed when we saw these photos on the internet.  However, rather than cast blame on anyone or cry and wish I was back home, I remember that traveling is an opportunity to develop character and so I swallow hard  and begin to laugh!  And as I imagine this scenario, my inner voice is saying, “Please don’t let this really happen!!”  Apparently, I need a lot more practice pretending to be someone different than me!!

 
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Posted by on May 23, 2012 in DVDs, France, Paris, Travel, Uncategorized

 

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COCO CHANEL’S GOSPEL SUCKS WHEN YOU GET OLD!

Karen Karbo attempts to demonstrate in her book The Gospel According To Coco Chanel how Coco Chanel’s life is a template for you and me to learn  “life lessons from the world’s most elegant woman.”

We usually associate the word gospel with the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  But there is another more generic definition of gospel:  It is something, such as an idea or principle, accepted as unquestionably true.   Both definitions suggest that you have embraced a truth so big that it impacts everythng you think, say and do.

Karen Karbo focuses more on life lessons than clarify exactly what Chanel’s principle is that guides most of her life.    However, from all the stories she includes of Chanel’s life,  her main principle is demonstrated and that is you must be a survivor no matter what the cost may be.  As a survivor, she couldn’t care what others thought of her.  Therefore, if she needed to become a mistress to get ahead, so be it.  If she needed to lie, then prevaricate as much as necessary.  If she wanted to live with a Nazi during the French occupation, let the public reaction be damned.

As a survivor, she left France for almost ten years when she was spared going to jail for having a Nazi lover.  Then she returned to Paris and had a fashion show on February 5. 1954.  It failed miserably.  Undaunted, she continued and of course made a terrific comeback until her death in 1970 at 87 years old.  In other words, her survivor mentality made her strong and gave her terrific tenacity and determination.  And there is no question that each one of us must have some survivor mentality or we would never be able to overcome our tough circumstances.  However, in order to be superior to the rest of the animal world, don’t we also need to include morality and integrity in our life changing gospel?

As Karen Karbo nears the end of her book, I wondered if she too began to realize that Chanel’s life principle was inadequate since it seemed rather shallow how she concluded that Chanel’s important gospel was her truths for fashion:

“Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only.  Fashion is in the sky, in the street; fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening.”
“But Coco said fashion fades, only style remains, and I am style.”

“When I speak of elegance I am speaking of luxury.  Luxury must remain invisible, but it must be felt.  Luxury is simple; it is the opposite of complication.”
“Some people think luxury is the opposite of poverty.  It is not.  It is the opposite of vulgarity.  Luxury is the opposite of status.  It is the ability to make a living by being oneself.  It is the freedom to refuse to live by habit.  Luxury is liberty.  Luxury is elegance.”

As much as many of her statements about fashion may still be true, do they convey a gospel that can sustain a person when she  gets older?  I don’t thnk so when we read about Chanel’s increasing anger as she got old.   As Karbo writes, “She was snarlier than ever.  She disparaged everyone.  . .. She said all of her old friends were witless and diabolical and merely out to use her.  She was lonely. Her comment in her interview for The New Yorker  reveals rather clearly why she lost her joy:  She could no longer look younger and therefore feel more joyous.

“Fashion is always of the time in which you live.  It is not something standing alone. But the grand problem, the most important problem, is to rejuvenate women.  To make women look young.  Then their outlook on life changes.  They feel more joyous.” . .. I am not young, but I feel young.  The day I feel old, I will go to bed and stay there.  J’aime la vie!  I feel that to live is a wonderful thing.

 Life was no longer a wonderful thng when she could no longer hide the wrinkles, could no longer take away the pain of her arthritis, could no longer sustain her when so many of her peers were dying.  It takes a much deeper and more profound gospel to be able to say that “to live is a wonderful thing” when all those things are affecting the joy in your day.  And her underlying principle to survive could no longer sustain her as she got older since she knew that that instinct could not prevent her death!

And yet, right to the end, she stubbornly held onto the belief that being fashionable was not just an important component but the only component to bring joy and fulfillment.  Therefore, very much alone   “she ascended into her small room, which was in the hotel that was the Ritz, . .. she laid down upon the bed in her suit, in her blouse and pearls, and removed her two-tone pumps, and placed them beside her bed, and then understanding that her hour had come, called out and said, “This is what it is like to die,” thereby dying as elegantly as she had lived.”

 Last night I was watching a movie where one of the characters said, “You have to find something bigger than yourself” in order to live a full life.  Some may say that she found something bigger than herself by pursuing fashion, but I think we need to find something bigger than ourselves that also carries us through old age and death.

Photo:  discounttravelcover.com
 
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Posted by on May 19, 2012 in Books, France, Paris, Travel, Uncategorized

 

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MENTORED BY SYLVIA BEACH!

When was the last time you wrote a letter to a friend or even to a business? Most of us rely on Facebook and e-mail now to keep in touch.  However, we don’t keep those messages the way we once did when we received a letter.

And think of what we would never know about prominent people like Sylvia Beach if we didn’t have her letters.  I just read Letters of Sylvia Beach which was edited by Keri Walsh.  Sylvia Beach is the woman who opened her bookstore in Paris in 1921 and made the bookstore  Shakespeare and Company famous when she published the controversial book by James Joyce called Ulysses.Much has been said about her influence in the 1920s and much has been critiqued about what happened when Joyce stopped publishing books with her. But what interested me was some of the character qualities that emanated from her letters – qualities that I was drawn to.

  • Sylvia Beach identified her passion and decided to pursue it.

When Sylvia was in Paris,  her mother suggested that she start an export business which she tried but it just wasn’t that lucrative and more importantly, that interesting to her.  She thought about how she was a voracious reader, and so she decided to open a book store that would appeal to all the English speaking people who were living in Paris.

  •  Sylvia Beach was not one to give up on her dreams.

Around the same time she decided to open a book store, a large library for the English had just opened. Rather than giving up, she realized that this library didn’t collect new fiction and non-fiction which became her focus.

  •  Sylvia  was not afraid to non-conform.

Up till then bookstores all looked the same – rather dark inside with rows of bookcases.  She decided to place her books only along the perimeter of the walls and covered the floors with rugs making  the space  welcoming and comfortable.

  •  Sylvia took risks when she believed in something passionately.

When James Joyce’ book Ulysses was being censored in United States, she boldly published it in Paris.  She also smuggled copies back into the United States.

“You probably saw in the papers the uproar cased by the trial of the Editors of the Little Review for printing some of Ulysses in it, and how they were fined $100 and their thumb prints taken.  Nine stenographers gave up the typing of the last episode here in Paris and a gentleman from the British Embassy burned a dozen pages . .. he threw ‘e, into the fire in a rage.  Ulysses is a masterpiece and one day it will be ranked among the classics in English literature.  Joyce is in Paris and I told him I would publish his book, after the publisher in New York threw up the job in a fright.

  •  Sylvia had a sense of humour.

“Have you, for example, ever read Les Miserables?  I never have till now and am at Vol 2.  It pays to read it, even if you wear out two or three pairs of glasses in doing so.”

(On a long air flight)  In the morning, I stayed awhile in the bathroom to fascinate myself with the numerous comforts that were installed there – beautiful electric razors and all that – and the poop deck in the lavatory where one does not flush – because that is immediately absorbed by the septic tank, like they make you take note, when the hostess came to ask me politely if I thought of staying there much longer “it’s that it’s that of the men you’re in”, she told me.  “That explains al those electric razors, I told her.”  (1953)

  •  Sylvia was a visionary.

Even though James Ulysse’s book was censored in United States, she believed that she was publishing the “greatest book and author of the age” !

  • Sylvia had developed loyal friends who were prepared to take risks with her.

Marion, you were such an angel to take all that trouble bootlegging for me!  As for the two copies that were confiscated, it was a miracle they were not all taken.  500 copies of the 2nd edition which appeared in ctober were seized in the States and the same number were destroyed in England about two mnths ago by the enlightened (?) authorities.  What a dark age were are living in and what a privilege to behold the spectacle of ignorant men solemnly deciding whether the work of some great writer is suitable for the public to read or not!

  • Sylvia was honest and forthright.

“I wish you would stop making those melodies thought, George.  The more you put of them in your work the more it doesn’t suit it, and they do give me slightly a bellyache.  Excuse me for being so frank dearest George, it’s for your good”.

  • Sylvia was not afraid to apologize.

(An apology for not getting to the task of publishing an author’s work ):  “It is quite unforgivable.  Adrienne was ill at the time I got the MS, and since then we have had an unbroken series of what they would call “emmerdements” ranging from a felon on my thumb and a finger cut off in the door of the car to the dog nearly dying with typhus; and Adrienne after an abscess in her tooth is now being slowly cured of a “dilatation d’estomac” which we hope will wind up the series, but I know I should have attended to the MW.  In spite of all thatYou do everything under far greater difficultiesI am sure.”

  • Sylvia wrote many letters to friends and nurtured friendships.

Just before the war when most Americans and English had left Paris, her business was greatly suffering.  Those same friends would often send her money or gifts to help her.  She sent many letters expressing her gratitude.

  • Sylvia did not give up very easily during tough circumstances.

(1932)  My time and energy are entirely absorbed in the problem of keeping my shop going in these bad times.  Since most of the English and Americans have gone away, the library terms have to be revised for the French who, I hope, will take their place.  From morning till night I am busy cataloguing and arranging the books and attending to all the rest of the work that is always accumulating on account of my headaches so often laying me up.

  • Sylvia was  brave when she stayed in France during the German occupation

Rather than returning to the United States during the German occupation of France, Beach opted to stay in France. Therefore, the Germans sent Beach  to an internment camp along with other  American and Brits who made that same decision.  Before she was captured, she closed her bookstore, painted over the Shakespeare and Company sign, and hid all of her books upstairs. (She never reopened the store).

  • Sylvia accomplished so much even though she suffered from a lifetime of migraines.

(1937)  “And then I’ve been in bed with a very bad headache which lays me down hard every week or so, in a way that would disgust anyone.  That’s why the cables from two firms who seem to be expecting my memoirs never get an answer, and never will probably unless Sylvia (her friend’s daughter) hurries up and comes over to the rescue.

(1947)  “Am working on my headaches and think have got somewhere at last.  A friend took me to a doc who does massage and has you do exercises and its not Chinese nor Swedish nor Hindu but his own invention.  I’ve had osteopathy, and napropathy and electro therapy, and pressure on the nerve centres and all the injections that have been discovered and this is the first time any one ever seemed to get anywhere near my headaches.”

  • Sylvia knew what her life purpose was until her death.

 The 1920’s were very significant years in Paris when authors like Earnest Hemingway, Scott Fitzgerald and James Joyce were all exploring their literary styles and interacting with other great authors.  Throughout her life,  Sylvia Beach was regarded as the guardian of the memory of 1920s in Paris.  She wrote her book of memoirs, catalogued books from her store, and kept the memory of those exciting years alive until at  75,  she died in Paris.

Initially, Sylvia Beach opened her bookstore on the rue Dupuytren, but in 1921 she moved it to the rue de l”Odeon.  Currently,  a small specialty shop called Moi Cani inhabits Shakespeare and Company’s premises at 12 rue de l’Odeon.  Only a commemorative plaque remains on this building.   However,  On the rue de la Bucherie, Whitman opened a bookstore  first called  Le Mistral, in 1951.  He later renamed the shop  Shakespeare and Company in honour of Beach’s and presently, his daughter, Sylvia Beach Whitman runs the bookstore.  
 
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Posted by on May 17, 2012 in Books, France, Paris, Travel

 

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WHY DON’T PARISIANS LIKE CHILDREN?

Why don’t Parisians like children?  My son and daughter-in-law have done a lot of travelling with their two small children and because my grandchildren are very even tempered, it hasn’t posed any real problems.  However,  they soon discovered that travelling with young children in Paris was not going to be as  easy.   They discovered rather quickly that   restaurants discourage parents from bringing their children since they don’t provide  any high chairs.  Fortunately, the weather wasn’t too cold so that they could take their food and eat outside.

Their lives were further complicated when they realized that most washrooms don’t have baby change tables.  My daughter-in-law said that they can now say that their little guy Memphis was changed on the steps of the Louvre.  And I can’t believe what happened to my four year grandson.  He needed to go to the bathroom and they weren’t near any public place.  They were forced to run into a restaurant and ask to use their toilet and they were refused.  Jackson could wait no longer and peed his pants.  I was so mad that I wished that he had pulled down his pants and had peed right on their floor!

Then when they were at the Musee d’Orsay, Memphis who is soon one year old, began to cry.  Now, my son and daughter-in-law are phenomenal parents and when Memphis began to cry, I know they were doing everything they could to quiet him, but suddenly a museum “guard” walked toward Jesse, put his fingers to his lips, and then asked them to leave!  “Thank you, I realize I am not trying hard enough, I need your extra pressure, and  perhaps I can hand him to you and see what you can do.”  No, my son said none of that – it was just a Grandma ranting.  He quietly took Memphis out of the museum.  I know that a screaming child whose molar teeth are trying to emerge can really disrupt the quiet ambience of an art gallery. I just think there could have been a little greater tolerance or  perhaps just  a smile and a look of understanding?

And yet, had Memphis not cried, my son and daughter-in-law may have left the Musee d’Orsay with a different opinion.  It was one of the buildings that had clean baby-changing rooms and they even provided free strollers.  Unfortunately, these two stressed parents because their baby was crying was shown no empathy  and those two features just weren’t enough to offset that judging and critical look that they received.  Of course, my son who has a quirky sense of humour is already enjoying relating his story of how he and Memphis were  evicted from the Musee d’Orsay!

Later that day, they entered the Napoleon Column where they used their museum passes.  However, when they had gotten quite far into the museum, a “guard” asked them if the children had tickets.  Well, the children were free so why would they think they needed tickets?  Jesse had to quickly return to the entrance to get two “free” tickets while Lisa waited with the children.  The Parisians seem so rigid in their adherence to their rules rather than show any consideration for a young family.

I don’t need to be told that  Paris is not completely opposed to children even though my son and daughter-in-law were surprised by how few children they saw.  There are many lovely activities for them that kept my four year old son completely engaged.  I can only hope that when our daughter and son-in-law come to Paris see us in October, Viola will have no teeth trying to come through since like my two grandsons, she is normally very happy.  In the meantime, whenever I see parents travelling with a crying child, I intend to smile at them and  if we speak the same language,  give them a few words of encouragement.  Travelling or not, I have always felt that when  when a child cries in public, the parents would readily appreciate receiving  just one moment of grace from a stranger.

 
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Posted by on May 16, 2012 in France, Paris, Travel, Uncategorized

 

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MASOCHISM ON AVENUE MONTAIGNE

I suppose if I am having a particularly masochistic day I could suggest that we wander down Avenue Montaigne.  If I am longing for even greater judgment and condescension from the sales people, I might even wander into one of the fashion stores.  Or if I am wondering if I have any acting skills and could dress the role so that I fit into the melee of the people most comfortable on this street, I could choose to see Avenue Montaigne.

When my husband and I were in Vegas with my daughter , I enjoyed her teasing me when we walked past such stores as Jimmy Choo, Prada and Louis Vuitton.  She knew that I hadn’t even been familiar with those names until I had watched the movie The Devil Wears Prada. I think I sometimes think I am from the “working class” rather from the “middle class” since I recall my family and most everyone else in my childhood neighbourhood struggle with finances. I My kids have often teased me for buying most of my clothes at the end of season clearance.  If I buy something that I think is excessive, I don’t want anyone to know how much I paid for that item – so I definitely don’t need logos ton my shirt to advertise that I did.    And yet, here I am planning a holiday to a very expensive city.  As you can see, I live in that constant tension of how to spend our money and save our money and give our money  wisely.

That schizophrenic confession about money explains why I would have been more drawn as a tourist to walk down Avenue Montaigne when it had been first named “Allee des Veuves (Widow’s Lane) because ladies in mourning found solace in its leafy shadows.  I have had lots of personal grief and so I would contemplate all the grief and perhaps solace that people had received on this Widow’s Lane.

However, in 1723, the street was renamed Avenue Montaigne and illuminated fountains and 30,000 gas jet lamps were installed.  I would still have been drawn to the energy of people entertaining themselves without a lot of expense by playing playing Chinese billiards, ring toss games and listening to bands playing polkas and waltzes.

Unfortunately, I am too late to participate in that fun while ambling down Avenue Montaigne.   By the turn of the last century, it was transformed into a high fashion street which has since become more important than rue du Faubourg Saint Honore for its high fashion.  Even our Canadian singer Celine has invested in this lucrative street.

And so I thought I would just settle for watching the warm hearted French movie called Avenue Montaigne. It was a wonderful story of  a young  woman from the province who comes to Paris and waits on tables in the midst of this entertainment and high fashion street.  I really enjoyed the movie and I got quite used to reading the English sub-titles..  As if the universe wanted to laugh at my decision to avoid Avenue Montaigne, I learned one alluring fact about this area:    Guess where the Canadian Embassy is located?!!!  Avenue Montaigne, No. 35.

First Photo by fififlowers.com
Second Photo by panoramio.com
 
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Posted by on May 9, 2012 in DVDs, France, Paris, Travel, Uncategorized

 

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ASK MONT SAINTE-VICTOIRE YOUR QUESTION

When I read The Provence Cure For the Brokenhearted, I was drinking lots of green tea pumping my body with its antioxidants and eating the BRAT diet (bananas, rice, applesauce and toast) as I soothed my intestinal tract after two bad bouts of flu!  This book, written by Bridget Asher, is  a story about Heidi who has been widowed for two years but is still experiencing debilitating grief, her son Abbott who has become obsessed with germs, and a rebellious   teenager Charlotte who is the daughter of the widow’s new brother-in-law who has married her sister.  Due to certain circumstances, they end up in Provence where of course, healing occurs for each one of them.

What captivated my interest was how Mont Sainte-Victoire played such a profound impact upon the story.   This mountain was depicted  in many of  Cezanne’s paintings since he could see this mountain outside his home.  Of course, it made sense that Cezanne had to paint this mountain since he was mesmerized by light and its effects on how we see things, and we learn from one of the characters who lived by this mountain  that  it  “changes colour through the day.”  One of the characters commented that  “Cezanne regarded Mont Sainte-Victoire from the front.  We see the mountain from the side.  La longueur.  A wider canvas.”

This mountain gradually assumes almost magical properties when we learn that Heidi’s mother had come here years ago and spent much time watching the mountain until she had the answer to  a life changing decision.   It is no surprise then that  when Heidi’s mother and other daughter fly to Provence to be with the rest of the family  at the height of everyone’s struggles, Heidi’s mother tells them all to sit and look at this mountain!   Of course, her daughters questioned her, (“Are you crazy?”), but eventually they responded to her order, “Get your chairs.  Pick them up.  Follow me.”

She proceeded to tell her daughters and her granddaughter, “This is how we’ll come to our answers and how we’ll find our resolve to stick to them.”  She proceeded to tell them, “We won’t talk about anything, not until sunset at least.  And then we can talk as much as we need to, but for now, quiet.” Of course, eventually, each one of them receives an answer!

This story poses an interesting challenge when I travel to Provence.  As enthusiastic tourists, we are often  chatting, discussing what we see, talking about where we are going next, and wondering where we are going to eat, can I just  quietly regard this mountain even for a short time in silence?  Ideally, I would like to view the mountain where I could see the Cross of Provence.   As a more challenging exercise, it would be lovely to find a place to sit and ask this mountain a question and then just watch it.

In our world of cell phones, computers, text-messages, e-mails, Facebook, and Twitter,  it is increasingly difficult  quiet the babble of sounds and to hear quiet.  I suspect that is why meditation is becoming more and more popular.  However, I really, like the idea of posing a question rather than emptying my thoughts completely and then sitting not in a void, but contemplating a beautiful mountain.   The power and effectiveness of such a challenge is likely divine since God tells us, “Be still and know that I am God.”   It’s just about impossible to enter His Presence and hear His Voice if we are surrounded by noise.

Currently, I have no mountain to look at, but  I have begun experimenting with quieting my mind by colouring mandalas.  So far,  I haven’t received any life changing answers, but I have experienced  stillness and quiet reassurances.  However, wouldn’t it be a wonderful memory if I could contemplate while looking at Mont Saint-Victoire and return home with the answer to a  question I’ve had for  14 years? Realistically, those kind of answers probably require the kind of time that these characters were prepared to invest since it takes awhile to rid our minds of our clutter of thoughts. However, perhaps I am minimizing the magical mysterious properties of Mont Saint-Victoire!

Mandala While Sick With The Flu

 
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Posted by on May 7, 2012 in Books, France, Paris, Travel, Uncategorized

 

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HIGH FASHION, WIDOW’S LANE OR POLKAS?

I suppose if I am having a particularly masochistic day I could suggest that we wander down Avenue Montaigne.  If I am longing for even greater judgment and condescension from the sales people, I might even wander into one of the fashion stores.  Or if I am wondering if I have any acting skills and could dress the role so that I fit into the melee of the people most comfortable on this street, I could choose to see Avenue Montaigne.

I remember when my husband and I were in Vegas with my daughter and she helped me try to be impressed by some of the higher fashion stores like Louis Vuitton and Prada.  My problem is that no matter how middle class I am now, I was raised in a working class home and neighbourhood.  People were often laid off from their jobs and even when working, often had a running tab at the local store since there wasn’t enough money to cover the month’s expenses.   When I look at a $1,00.00 pair of shoes, I think of the groceries it could buy for a family.  Even when I cross the line and buy something that from my point of view is expensive, I don’t want others to know what I paid.  I have no need to advertise high fashion lines with their logos on my t-shirt. However, I am also a hypocrite since I am going on this great holiday rather than donating those savings to the homeless!

Regardless,  I would have been more drawn as a tourist to walk down Avenue Montaigne when it had been first named “Allee des Veuves” (Widow’s Lane) because ladies in mourning found solace in its leafy shadows.  From personal experience, I understand grief and I would have found my own solace remembering people whom I have lost.

However, in 1723, the street was renamed Avenue Montaigne and illuminated fountains and 30,000 gas jet lamps were installed.  That addition would also have drawn me there to watch people playing Chinese billiards, ring toss games and listen to bands playing polkas and waltzes.

Again, I am too late to watch that kind of energy on a street.  By the turn of the last century, it was transformed into a high fashion street which has since become more important than rue du Faubourg Saint Honore for its high fashion.  Even our Canadian singer Celine has invested in this lucrative street.

And so I thought I would just settle for watching the warm hearted French movie called Avenue Montaigne. It was a wonderful story of  a young  woman from the province who comes to Paris and waits on tables in the midst of this entertainment and high fashion street.  I really enjoyed the movie and I got quite used to reading the English sub-titles.

Ironically, just when I concluded that I had been given enough overview of Avenue Montaigne as I watched this movie, I  learned one fact that may alter my decision.  Guess where the Canadian Embassy is located?!!!  Avenue Montaigne, No. 35.

fififlowers.com



 
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Posted by on May 4, 2012 in DVDs, France, Paris, Travel

 

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