Monday, October 28, 2013

Evenings with an Author: Gerald Shea at The American Library in Paris

The American Library in Paris presents Gerald Shea this Tuesday October 29, 2013 at 19:30.

Shea, a lawyer who has lived and worked in both Paris and New York, will speak about his memoir,
Song without Words: Discovering my Deafness Halfway Through Life. Like Helen Keller, he lost much of his hearing to scarlet fever when he was 6 but only discovered and was given an actual diagnosis at the age of 34. (Shea devotes a chapter to Helen Keller in his memoir.)

In an interview with Caroline Leavitt (novelist, screenwriter, writing instructor for UCLA's Extension Writer's Program and Stanford online), Shea beautifully describes life before and after his diagnosis:

"As my world grew quieter, losing high frequency sounds but keeping many lows, I wasn't conscious of it, and thought that everyone else heard words as I did, but was much faster at understanding them than I was. I have always been, I think, a happy person, and became, instinctively, an excellent lipreader. When I didn't understand, which happened often, I would laugh, or change the subject, or even sing. Music and laughter take you a long way. So I always had lots of friends, though as a child I had my angels and saints too, as I write in the book, whose voices, of my own creation, of course, were beautifully clear to me. 

"When I was finally diagnosed at age 34, at Columbia P&S, and Dr. Chang fully explained what was wrong, I was devastated. I thought back, immediately, during the seconds and minutes after I fully grasped what my life had been, to all that I had lost: the words, the ideas, the opportunities: all that lost time as Proust put it in writing of memories. And yet, I always thought, still do, that I have, and have had, a full life.

     The most moving element of my discovery, as I write in the book, was that day out in the country when I rediscovered the sounds of nature, the crickets, heavenly crickets, and the birds, the rainfall, the footsteps, the breaths, the wind, the water, the merry bubble and joy of my life as a young child. They are like Proust's madeleines, except they had been absent for almost three decades. They were a remembrance of things past, and on that day and thereafter, beautifully, miraculously it seemed, present again." 

(Being one who also suffers hearing loss, I truly wish I could hear Shea speak on the subject and on his memoir (no pun intended.) I strongly relate to his discussion of hearing things other than what was spoken and of how very much is missed. I sometimes describe hearing loss as being able to hear the sound of the voices but what is said comes across as a foreign language with nothing actually being internalized. Or of hearing things completely different than what was expressed.  I frequently go home from events, lectures, author readings trying to calculate what percentage I actually heard. If someone who knows and loves me is sitting next to me through the event, they are frequently subjected to missing segments while being asked to repeat what was just said. Without meaning to, we daily and repeatedly test the patience and stamina of our loved ones. Most people who know me have figured out that if I've just smiled and nodded but not answered their question, it's because I didn't hear it. If not, they simply think I'm being rude.)

Since I can't be there, I will definitely be reading his book.

If you're in Paris, go hear Gerald Shea at The American Library in Paris tomorrow night.

(Excerpt via CarolineLeavittefille blog with Caroline's permission)

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.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Uffizi Gallery in Florence~ Travelin' Tuesday

Staying with our Florence theme this week,
the above is located outside the famous Uffizi Gallery
which began construction in 1560 
by Georgio Vasari for Cosimo I de Medici 
and continued until 1581.

(Behind it stands the tower of the Palazzo Vecchio (the old palace)
which has two small cells
and at one time held both
 Cosimo de Medici (the elder) and Girolamo Savonarola. )

Uffizi means offices and it became the offices for the magistrates 
and one of the first public museums
being one of the oldest. 

It houses works from the likes of 
Botticelli, da Vinci, Michelangelo, Filippo Lippi, 
Raphael, Titian, Caravaggio and Rembrandt. 

And this little cutie stands nearby. 
Love these amazingly ornate columns. 

Oh to be wandering the galleries of artworks today
standing in the beauty of such greatness. 

(Photos copyright: Kirsten Steen)
Details from Wiki

Friday, October 18, 2013

Lunch overlooking the David in Firenze

I'm coming to the end of my writing retreat 
and I've decided we need a little more of Florence this week
since that's where I've been in my head. 

This little place is preparing for lunch on the famous square,
the Piazza della Signoria,
the entryway to the Uffizi Gallery and
home of the famous statues you see in the background. 
That is a reproduction of Michelangelo's David on the left of course,
and on the right is Bandinelli's Hercules and Cacus.
And between them is the entrance to the Palazzo Vecchio (or Old Palace). 
Now the Town Hall for Florence
and the home of the Mayor's office and City Council,
it was once the home of Cosimo I before he moved across the Arno River
to the Palazzo Pitti.
That's when Cosimo began calling it the Old Palace. 

And speaking of old,
there's one other photo I just have to share:

In case you are wondering what I will look like when I'm aged,
this is it. 
Permanently bent over my writing
and possibly sound asleep, 
though I cannot guaranty my socks will match anything. 
Can you tell I'm getting punchy?! 
Until we meet again...

(Photos copyright: Kirsten Steen)

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Florence on my mind...Travelin' Tuesday

I'm busy working on the novel this week 
from my writing retreat on the Oregon Coast
and my characters are in Florence right this minute
so it seemed a good time to pull out some of the Florence photos. 

I don't recall the exact location of this spot 
but pretty sure it is right near the Uffizi Gallery...
and the Arno river...and the Ponte Vecchio bridge. 

The shot reminds me of olives smothered in olive oil
and authentic pizza with red wine...
like this...

My characters are in the midst of a helicopter tour of Florence
with one of the most wealthy moguls in the world
which I never got to do 
but it was fun to write about.

(Photo copyright: Kirsten Steen)

Monday, October 14, 2013

Les Pains et fleurs~ Missing Paris Day

Like this photo because it combines two things I love in Paris:
The boulangeries and the florist shops. 
Now if I could just be walking down  Boulevard de Grenelle 
eating the end off one of these long, honey-colored baguettes
with blossoming flowers for my table. 

(Photo copyright: Kirsten Steen)

Monday, October 7, 2013

Montmartre Wine Harvest this week

The Vendanges de Montmartre (wine harvest) is this 
Wednesday through Sunday, October 9-13, 2013,
throughout the 18th arrondissement neighborhood. 
While initially begun in 1934,
the Vendanges continues every year 
mostly as symbolic tradition of the hill's once plentiful vineyards.

The theme this year of Love and Passion
will focus on food and art 
with wine tastings, local food samplings, music and dancing. 

The only tiny vineyard still working and visible on the hill
produces about 1,500 bottles of
Gamay and Pinot Noir. 
You can still view the plot at 14-18 rue des Saules.

Free fireworks and music will be held
Saturday October 12th at 9:45pm.

Take the 12 Line to Jules Joffrin, Lamarck Caulaincourt, Pigalle or Abbesses,
or the 2 Line to Blanche or Anvers. 

For a full list of events and maps,
go to GoParis here.

Details via
(Photos copyright: Kirsten Steen)