Monday, March 18, 2013

Forever Love... over the Seine

As if Paris isn't romantic enough 
with its cobblestone riverside walkways and ancient glowing stone buildings,
young lovers have found another way to express their undying love for each other 
in the City of Light. 

Along the Pont des Arts 
(the pedestrian bridge which links the Institute of France with the Palais du Louvre),
lovers engrave their first initials on a padlock and attach it to the bridge,
tossing the key into the Seine
 to profess their eternal love for each other. 

The bridge itself has its own romantic uses. 
It serves as an outdoor studio for painters, 
a place for art exhibitions
and a picnic spot during the summer. 

Paris seems to inspire no end of creativity for expressing passionate affection
for our heart's desire. 

What is it about Paris that makes us swoon?

As I approach a new decade, 
I admit that the feeling of being in Paris makes me feel young and alive. 
 Each and every day in Paris fulfills my deep passion for travel
because around every corner, under every bridge, the feeling of history is so strong, 
it fills every pore like a palliative balm, sometimes sweetly scented
(think croissants and freshly baked baguette, even the unique metro aroma)
and sometimes not. 

Every crevice has a story and as a writer,
the stories call and beg, enticing the creative mind to hunt and immerse one's self,
letting it surround you like chunks of bread in a pot of melted cheese.

While Paris is known for its writers and has an undeniable history 
with those who take pen in hand, 
I've found that I cannot write there. 
For me, the urge to be out in it, experiencing it, walking it, 
letting it rain all over me,
far outweighs the urge to write about it. 
And when you're in it,
it is always pulling, like a strong wind, calling, seducing. 
For me, the writing has to come later. 
Difficult to write about seduction while in the midst of being seduced. 

I do believe my padlock would have three initials on it!
What is it about Paris for you?

Monday, March 11, 2013

Australian Heroine honored in France

The ashes of Nancy Wake, 
an Australian woman working as a British agent during WWII 
who became a courier for the French Resistance 
(and the inspiration for the film and novel Charlotte Gray, her character played by Cate Blanchett),
were recently scattered in the village of Verneix at her request. 

Known as The White Mouse by the Gestapo for her elusiveness,
Wake, in 1943, had a 5-million franc price on her head.
She lived in Marseille with her husband, wealthy businessman Henri Fiocca,
when she got word that the Gestapo were on their way to her home. 
She fled, her husband staying behind, only to learn at the end of the war
that he had been captured, tortured and killed by the Gestapo for not giving up her whereabouts. 

She trained in London with the Special Operations Executive and on April 29th, 1944,
 was parachuted into the Auvergne near Verneix.
She was known for her strength of character. 
Upon finding her dangling from a tree, 
the captain of the local resistance remarked,
"I hope that all the trees in France bear such beautiful fruit this year."
Her reply: "Don't give me that French 'merde'." (Translation, mine.)
In describing her tactics, she was quoted as saying,
"A little powder and a little drink on the way, and I'd pass their posts and wink and say,
'Do you want to search me?' God, what a flirtatious little bastard I was." 

She worked to recruit members and led a force of more than 7,500 in attacks against the German forces.
She was awarded the Croix de Guerre three times as well as the Medaille de la Resistance, 
and the US Medal of Freedom. She married a former RAF fighter pilot in 1957 
and died in London in 2011 at the age of 98.

Here's lookin' at you, Kid!

(Quotes thanks to Wiki)
(Photo copyright: Kirsten Steen)

Monday, March 4, 2013

'Hamlet's Blackberry' author at the American Library in Paris

The American Library in Paris presents William Powers, author of Hamlet's Blackberry: Building a Good Life in the Digital Age, Wednesday March 13, 2013 at 19:30 during the library's Evenings with an Author.

Powers, in his New York Times Bestselling book, goes beyond the current discussion and debate on whether new technology is harming our brains, our relationships and our lives but more to the point, how to deal with it and how we strike a balance.  Drawing on his own life and our technological advances, as well as including masterful thinkers like Shakespeare and Thoreau, Powers examines connectedness and its opposite and ways to balance to enrich our lives in the digital age.

Bob Woodward, (whom Powers once worked for) calls it "a brilliant and thoughtful handbook for the internet age." Laura Lippman, New York Times Bestselling novelist says it, "changed my life". Simon Winchester, author of The Professor and the Madman says Powers "offers in these pages an oasis of serenity and sanity."

You can read more about Powers' background at both linked sites above and buy his book here.
Another book I can't wait to read is one he mentions on his website in the News column called Race Against the Machine by Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee on the economic damage being created by the rising competence of technology in the workplace. It's promised to be a quick read (only 59 pages) so I bought mine. You can buy yours here.

American Library in Paris  is located at:
10, rue du General Camou
(Just off the Champs de Mars and the Eiffel Tower)
75007 Paris, France
• Tel. +33 (0)1 53 59 12 60 
Tues-Sat: 10h-19h, Sun: 13h-19h.