Mar 31, 2010

The Road to Perdition

Turns out my trusty steed wasn't so trusty after all.

On the morning of the big road trip, my beautiful blue baby car was having a bit of a rough day, and all at once the radio, the tape deck (yes, the tape deck) and the cigarette-lighter-cum-ipod-and-gps-charger thingy stopped working.

Ten hours on the road. No music. No GPS. No way.

So I took my mother's Twingo instead, the nice one with leather seats and air conditioning and an engine that lets me hit 130 and a sound system I can shake my bootie to! (don't try this at home, kids)

So thanks mom!

Anyways, I made it. It was a gorgeous drive, and the south is as beautiful as ever. Although colder than I expected. But I'm supposed to be writing, not tanning, so it's all for the best, I suppose.

And writing I am. Or trying to anyways. Chapter 14 is done and dusted (turned out better than I feared) and Chapter 15 - well, chapter 15 is tricky. Because when you're telling a love story, eventually, you get to that point when you have to decide whether you're going to go down the pan-out-to-the-fireplace route, or the other one. Or somewhere in between. And those kinds of chapters always get writers in trouble. Like I said. Tricky.

Maybe in Chapter 16 I could write about Wagnerian opera or the proper way to cook brussels sprouts or something.

Mar 27, 2010

Salon du Livre Follies

I really should be packing. Really.

But before I go do that, let me share some Paul Auster-ness with you.

That's right, today I met Paul Auster. After a two-hour wait in line, during which I ended up on one side of an intense, philosophical debate with someone who was trying to cut in front of me, apparently on human rights grounds. He lost. Let that be a lesson for you all.

Anyways, if you're ready for it (drumroll, please), here's a direct transcript of my meeting with the great Mr. Auster.

Res (handing over English-language copy of Invisible, previously purchased at WH Smith, while he is sitting with his French editor from Actes Sud): It's a real honour to meet you, Mr. Auster.

Paul (yes, I feel we're on a first name basis now): Thank you. Thank you for coming. (looking down as he scribbles what I believe was supposed to be his name) I hope you enjoy the book.

Res (already getting hustled out of the way by some impatient teenagers behind her - although it's nice to see that teenagers still read): I'm half way through it, it's great! (grovel, grovel)

Paul: OK then.

And that was it. Well worth the two hours' wait.

But the true highlight of the day was hearing the following nugget of wisdom from Mr. Auster during an earlier conference:
"The most important thing for a writer of fiction is to tell the truth."

I like the sound of that.

Mar 26, 2010


Today's theme: prune. And not because of the shoe store (my wallet breathes a sigh of relief).

But first, let's start with yesterday.

Yesterday, I doubled my collection of books-dedicated-to-me-by-actual-real-live-published-authors. To two. Indeed, after Elizabeth Bard's delightful Lunch in Paris talk (complete with home-baked financiers and spot-on NY humour), I was treated to Stephen Clarke and his very much more British repartée. So thank you to Elizabeth, Stephen (sorry for the pointed question - Anglo-French relations just get me going) and WH Smith for organizing! Also, thank you to the rain for making it just dramatic enough, but not completely impossible, to actually get myself to the rue de Rivoli yesterday.

Tomorrow, my aim is to bring the total to a mighty 3, with hopefully a live encounter with Paul Auster at the Salon du Livre!

Anyways, now back to today. Prune day.

This morning I had yet another delightful flab removal session at the beauty salon (only slightly less related to my fledgling novelist career than the book salon...) This one actually wasn't so bad, as I got to lounge in a hot tub for 40 minutes in indestructible, moisture-resistant paper undies. If you can close your eyes and ignore the fact that someone with a giant jet-cleaner thing (for you French politicos, think karcher...) is making everything wobble, it's actually quite pleasant. But of course, when I left, I looked distinctly - prune-ish.

Fortunately, my next stop was a much-needed hug and lunch with Supermom to iron out the grumps and feast on a tajine of poulet aux pruneaux (ta da!) at the gorgeous Grande Mosquée restaurant (perhaps deserving of a future entry in Res Ipsa's Paris?) God I love North African mint tea.

Once we were adequately fed and minted, off we scampered into the hammam across the hall (you're sensing the third prune reference here, aren't you?) Granted, it took us a while to figure out how things worked (note to self: bring towel and scrubby glove thing next time), we queued for what felt like a very damp million years for our scrub-down, we got yelled at by a scary, old Moroccan woman, and we ran out of time before we got to the massages, but we still had a fabulous time.

Which just goes to show that comforting company and a good bout of pampering can go a long way.

And now I need to pack. Because after the Paul Auster sighting, I will be once more taking the road in my trusty old Twingo (that poor girl isn't getting any younger) and heading south. First, for a little Easter celebrating (more chocolate and wine than mass and, well, wine). Then, for two to three long weeks all by my lonesome, so I can FINALLY get some serious writing done.

I'm counting on you to hold me to it, dear readers! I'm on Chapter 14 now (which is off to an ominous start) and I must, absolutely MUST, have hit Chapter 22 by the time I get back.

Do we have a deal?

Don't go soft on me now, folks, I need you!

Mar 23, 2010

The Grumps

This week, The Duchess is bitchy and I am grumpy. And no, that doesn't mean we've synchronized our cycles...

I'm not grumpy for any particular important reason. Like world famine, say, or high abstention rates at local elections, or because the Japanese like to eat whales.

No, I'm grumpy for the little things.
  • For the fact that the "friend of a friend" literary agent has still not read my manuscript;
  • That a very expensive "network" (that's four degrees' worth) doesn't like responding to emails;
  • That I am either over-qualified or unqualified but never just right (damn Goldilocks recruiters);
  • That Alina's love life is better than mine, and I MADE HER UP (ungrateful bitch);
  • That I lost my premium status on Air France;
  • That the kilos haven't gotten the memo that it's bikini weather soon and they should take a hike;
  • That I haven't been able to walk without a knee brace since the half marathon and I'm getting seriously antsy;
  • That all my friends are spread around the globe and I would very much like to have them all HERE;

And for a bunch of other reasons I'm sure will come back to me.

So there. Call back later.

Mar 19, 2010

Living Otherly

Some words simply don't translate well. Even into English, although it has twice as many words as any other Indo-European language. Autrement is one of these. You can't translate it as differently, because that's différemment. And so the best I can do this evening is otherly.

Which actually fits the atmosphere of the Salon Vivre Autrement quite well. It was very... otherly.

This morning, my Montmartoise and I, all clad in the latest fashions (shift dress and flowery scarf for me, skinny grey jeans and military jacket for her, boots for both of us) set out for what we imagined would be a day of glorifying the environment and wallowing in our own glorious boho chicness.

Instead, we found ourselves alone amidst hordes of aggressive grannies prepared to sacrifice their first great-grandchild for the latest new-age, crystal-salt from the Himalayas candle holder. All's fair in love and wacky ecological warfare, apparently. And so our lovely boots were trod upon, our slim, youthful figures shoved against wooden racks of essential oils as purple-haired dears in ill-fitting knit cardigans and vegan sandals clawed at what the hacks guraranteed would restore them to their glorious twenties (that's the 1920s...)

Now I have nothing against our beloved senior citizens (in fact, I currently reside with two lovely specimens, both of which will kill me for referring to them as such). But seriously, these little old ladies were mean! Barely had we managed to get our hands on some herbal tea and a bar of organic chocolate (the least bizarre items on offer) that, shoulders slumped in defeat, we were forced to retreat to the hobbit-owned crêpe stand outside (organic crêpes, apparently) to drown our humiliation in ethical cheese and ham.

On the upside, we were very popular with the eco-men (who, despite appearances, could hold their own against the best New York City construction workers in a wolf-calling contest). Except the eco-men are strange, very strange. Do I look silly enough to buy a perfume made out of vegetable oil and "purple" (yes, as in the colour purple...)?!

My suggestion for next year's Live Otherly fair is to append the following motto: "save the world, buy wacky shit from pimply scam-artists." If only Al Gore knew it was that simple.

Mar 14, 2010


It's been a while since I've written about the book. Although to be fair, it's been a while since I've actually written the book. Period. So that may have something to do with it.

My problem was the infamous chapter 11. It took me 6 weeks from start to finish to write that one chapter (to give you a frame of reference, most chapters have taken me 3-4 days to write once I get started on them). But damn chapter 11 almost bankrupted my entire literary career (my my, aren't I witty this evening).

Why? Because this is the big moment in the book when the two main characters finally meet (yes, we're 100 pages in, I know). They haven't seen each other in 6 years. And saying there's some nasty "history" there is putting it mildly. So there they are, in public, face to face, and ... and what? Precisely. How does one write a scene like that without it being too much, or too little, or, or, or? That's what took me six weeks to figure out. And also I was enjoying the sunshine.

Well, I did finally finish chapter 11 two days ago (we'll see if the "big meet" ends up fulfilling your expectations, if not my own). But now I have another problem. I have no idea what happens next.

This problem crops up every time I finish a chapter. I'm all excited for about 5 minutes for having nicely rounded off an episode of my story and then - panic hits. Now what? Yes, I know how the story ends. I know lots of pieces of the story. But I never know what the immediate next step is.

So I wait.

And, ok, here's the weird bit, don't judge me, please.

The characters tell me.

I'm not kidding. I don't hear dead people, I hear imaginary ones.

Is that normal, or have I truly lost the plot? (fortunately, my knack for bad puns will never leave me)

Mar 12, 2010

The Woman in my Life

Dear friends,

Let me introduce you to Alina.

Alina is the first piece of art I have ever bought.

Alina is also the name of my novel's heroine.

It was about time you all met.

PS: The name of the artist is Daniel Timmers. The poor quality of the photography is my fault alone.

T'as de beaux yeux, tu sais

In honour of Women Are Awesome Month (or whatever it's called) I couldn't resist posting this little jewel which features France's very own, beautiful Marillon Cotillard (she especially has very beautiful ... eyes).

Mar 11, 2010

In the days of Victoria

Oh dear oh dear oh dear. 10 days have passed and I still haven't told you about my trip to Australia. I'm at risk of losing my precious Australian readership! (That's right, I have an "Australian readership." Of about 10 people.)

Here we are then, a day by day run-down of my second summer vacation in February.

Tuesday: Get on plane. It's an A380. I'm on the top deck. That remains exciting for about 35 minutes.

Wednesday: Still on plane. I think. I'm not sure what day it is, though, so perhaps I've actually migrated to a galaxy far, far away.

Thursday: In Melbourne. Feeling a bit worse for wear, I attempt a run. It does not go well. Instead, I decide to take the tram into the city. I forget to get off, end up on the other side of town, and have to get another tram back in. This clearly entitles me to a glass of wine, before meeting the Chick for a dinner of burger and fake champagne by the beach.

Friday: Miss Klum arrives and the trio is now complete in time for my first ever cricket match. As far as I can tell, cricket involves a lot of standing around and taking drinks breaks. Both for the players and for the spectators. Desirous of a little more action, we head to an outdoors bar, then an insanely overheated back-alley nightclub, and still somehow manage to make it back to bed still upright on our heels.

Saturday: Ah, the legendary Aussie barbecue. What a wonderful way to while away the afternoon. This is followed by an exlusive invitation to a 21-year-old boy's birthday party (don't ask). All I can say is: thirty-somethings have more fun.

Sunday: Woo-hoo! My very first music festival (yes, I know, that's embarrassing) and The Killers are headlining! Even the weather gods are with us.

Monday: We say goodbye to the weather gods as Miss Klum and I drive out of Melbourne in the cold and rain towards Wilson's Prom. Fortunately, the skies clear once we get there and it's in the sunshine that we hike the 20 kilometres to the lighthouse, to sleep in a little cottage battered by the wind.

Tuesday: Klum and I realize that it's all fine and good to hike 20k to a lighthouse until you have to hike the 20k back in the morning. Fortunately the wallabies are there to keep us company. In the afternoon, we drive over to Phillip Island, attempt the beach until we finally admit it's too cold, and spend the evening watching very small penguins (cleverly called Little Penguins).

Wednesday: A slightly quieter day where we hang in Torquay, home of Rip Curl, and shop. What? It's cold!

Thursday: It's the Great Ocean Road drive day which keeps us very busy, what with driving on the left, spotting koalas, and hitching a helicopter ride. A very, very good day.

Friday: Back in Melbourne and sipping wine in the Yarra Valley. Also catching a glimpse of the fire damage from last year. I'm happy to report the green is coming back.

Saturday: Wait! We forgot about the Olympics! Time to catch up, especially as the weather feels like London in November.

Sunday: The Chick, insane as ever, has us wake up at 5am to go to a triathlon. Even crazier, she's participating. Klum and I undertake our cheering duties with professionalism and poise and Chick crosses the finish line victorious. And then, sadly , it's time to spend another soul-quashing 24 hours on a plane.

That's a pretty full run-down I gave you there. What? You want more? You want pictures?

You certainly are demanding this evening...

View from helicopter @ Twelve Apostles (of which there are eight)


Wilson's Prom lighthouse

Mar 10, 2010

Faire le ménage

There are so many times when I point you to completely inane stories that have very little instrinsic value other than my own (occasionally) cruel amusement, I decided that this evening I would share with you a little piece of news about something important.

A female folk band.

From Brooklyn.

Who have the most fabulous lyrics you will ever come across.

Oh, and yes, I may be slightly biased (but no less correct) because one of the girls is a very good friend of mine.

Still. You could do far worse than to spend an hour or two listening to Ménage à Twang. Enjoy.

(Note: the video for "Listen sister, don't date a hipster" was previously posted here.)

The Highs and Lows of the Life of Res

Ladies and Gentlemen,

If you are the sort to shirk away from grandiloquent displays of self-confidence à l'américaine;
If extremes of emotion make you wither in disgust;
If you think a life of toil, grey suits and substantial bank accounts is the highest form of accomplishment;
If you don't have any particular feelings of affection for me and would rather see me fail than succeed;

Then stop reading at once.

For today, Ladies and Gentlemen, today is the day when I announce to you all:



No no, seriously. Stop laughing. Stop it. I said stop it!

Let me prove it to you.

In the past month, I have:
  • Awesomelly climbed the highest sand dune in the world and Table Mountain in the same week;
  • Celebrated one year of being an awesome non-smoker;
  • Taken my first ever ride in an awesome helicopter;
  • Seen the most awesome Killers on stage;
  • Run a totally awesome 21.1 kilometres;
  • Realized that in certain places of my manuscript, my writing is - you guessed it - awesome.

There you have it. Are you in awe of me? Because I am in awe of me. So call me Barney and give me a high five.

Sadly, though, not all of us awesome people can be awesome all of the time.

Today, for example, I had a less than awesome moment (dear readers, turn away if you are squeamish and/or would rather keep me on that nicy cozy Res-shaped pedestal you've prepared.)

Life as a girl, even an awesome one such as myself, involves a certain amount of - how should we put it - undesired accumulated insulation. In order to remove such insulation in time for bikini weather, I have decided to invest in what I have been assured is a high-ROI insulation elimination process.

Which began today, when I was given to wear... full-body tights. That's right. It's like a massive white baby suit. A giant human condom. Even Scarlett Johanssen would struggle not to look completely ridiculous in this thing.

And what was the point of this marvelous, "Star Trek does bad porn" attire, I hear you query?

Well, turns out the "process" I was signed up for today was to subject myself to the attentions of a giant vacuum cleaner. The point of the body tights, therefore, is to avoid accidentally getting swathes of my skin sucked up into the infernal machine. Good call, then, those tights.

But Lord help me. I struggle to find appropriate topics of conversation with the lady who cuts my hair, or when I get my nails done. What on earth do you talk about to someone who's hoovering your ass?

PS: This post is dedicated to my favourite Montmartoise.

Mar 6, 2010

Un pied devant l'autre

Tomorrow is the big day. The day I run 21.1 kilometres for no obvious reason.

I'm actually feeling rather stressed.

Which is silly, of course. It's not like this actually matters to anybody. It's not like an exam or a job interview or something important. Running the half marathon will not make me smarter, richer, a better writer, more popular, prettier, or find me the love of my life (unless he runs really slowly too; in which case I probably don't want to go out with him anyway).

But it's mine. In a time when I have no job, no job prospects, no book, no apartment, and no boyfriend, I have this. This potential glimmer of accomplishment.

So I better not screw it up and fail before the finish line.

Oh God.

I think I'm going to be sick.

To be continued...

(do not fret, dear readers, once the race is over I will be sure to update you on all my travels, including through the lovely landscapes of Victoria, and tell you a funny little story about social networking...)