Postcard #1: Paris

October 4, 2014 at 1:44 am (Uncategorized) (, , )


Information on an Icelandic tourist brochure:

Q – If I get mugged, what number do I call?

A – You won’t. People don’t get mugged in Iceland…unless you’re a complete asshole.

I’m curled up cross-legged in my writing studio, sipping coffee and listening to AC/DC on Slinging Pig Radio. I have a novel to work on, short stories to edit, and the bones of new ones to flesh out.

It could be any morning in Melbourne. But then I look out the window and see mountains looming over the studio, their peaks covered in snow, and I catch my breath.

Every. Single. Time.

I’m in Ólafsfjörður, Iceland, a tiny fishing village on the northern coast, on day one of a month long artist residency. It’s four degrees outside. And  I have so much writing to do that I feel like clapping my hands together. I’ll be updating this blog more often than usual as a timeline to my adventures, which began last weekend in Paris.

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It’s hard to dislike Paris. Even when Air France went on strike the day before I left Australia and cancelled my flight, I tried to shrug it off. When the replacement airline then lost my luggage, I just sat in Charles de Gaulle airport eating peaches and waiting for them to sort it. I was in Europe, and the adventure had begun.

I picked Hilde up at Gare du Nord, knocking over small French children in my rush to throw my arms around my beloved Dutchie. This lovely woman has been my companion on many a European jaunt: finding each other as penpals in a feminist punk collective over a decade ago, we’ve been blessed enough to weave our story strands together in Brussels, Amsterdam, Berlin, Rotterdam and Prague…and now Paris.

Our apartment on Rue de Republique was gorgeous, sharing with French dancers who provided us with a map and recommendations. Fifteen minutes later we were nestled into a cafe on Rue Oberkampf, where Hilde heard a sound she’s become more than accustomed to over the years…my goat’s cheese squeal.

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After the first of many carafes of rosé we headed to Père Lachaise Cemetery, at the end of our street. With graves strewn all up the hillside, it was a lovely way to spend our first sunny afternoon in Paris. After being asked several times for directions to Jim Morrisson’s grave, we headed there ourselves. It’s hard to miss: the only grave sectioned off, a crowd of people still gathered around it, posing for selfies and throwing things over the fence in the hope they’d end up close to Jim.

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Paris in autumn is a joy…we hit the flea markets at Place de Clignancourt, strolled through the Marais shopping for red lipstick, and sprawled in the Place des Vosges to soak up the sun. We walked along the Seine to the Eiffel Tower, stopping for cafe cremes, and agreed to disagree about the contentious architecture of the Pompidou Centre (sorry Hildelein, but it’s too close to the horrendous Federation Square in Melbourne for my liking).

And when we were asked by a Comme des Garcons jewellery designer if we were here for Paris Fashion Week, our smiles were wide.

However.

Paris is gorgeous, sophisticated, and impressive as hell. But damn, she knows it.

I’ve rarely experienced ruder people – and that includes New York. Hilde and I ducked into a bar one night when rain was cascading onto the cobblestones, tempted by the cocktail list. When I asked for two tequila sunrises, he glowered at my tattoos, opened a fat mouth under a yellowing moustache, and barked ‘Non!’

Just that. ‘Non à la tequila, ou non à moi?’ We didn’t get a chance to find out, as he waddled furiously away like a demented penguin. Just as well, for we soon found a cosy little bar with a steady supply of dirty martinis, and Elvis on the Wurlitzer jukebox, where we hid from the rain in fine style.

It wasn’t the only time we were refused service, and it’s hard to think fondly of a city prone to such nonsense, but with Hilde by my side I could never scowl for long. We said goodbye on the metro somewhere between Rue St Maur and Parmentier, wiping away my mascara tears as I leapt onto the platform and turned to watch my girl disappear down the tunnel.

The last time I was in Paris was 2006, and I was heartsick. A devastating breakup had led to me lose both weight and faith, and wandering the streets of that city with my clothes swimming on me and my tail low had knocked some of the shine from Paris and her memories.

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Not anymore. Paris will now be the city I shared with Hilde over oceans of wine and miles of cobblestones under my ballet flats, the city that led me to this amazing land of fire and ice that’ll be my home for the next month.

And just as I wrote that, I looked up to see that it’s snowing here. I’ve been waiting, and hoping, and now the first flecks of white are starting to fall and I could not be happier right now.

If you’ll excuse me, I’m going to pull on my red riding hood and go play.

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6 Comments

  1. Louise said,

    Delicious indeed!

    • inkymouth said,

      Thanks, LouLou! Working on the next update now, from my snow covered studio 🙂

  2. Dorie Mol said,

    Ah! Sounds like your adventure started off just right! I like your tale, and look forward to more! You go, Gal!!

    • inkymouth said,

      Thanks, Dorie! And there will be more, oh yes…much more.

  3. gretchen said,

    I purred reading this. Not sure what you mean about rude NYers though babe, you know how much we fucking love you. x

    • inkymouth said,

      And I loooove New York, honey – you know it! But my redheaded temper was frayed many a time there…price you pay for being part of such a wonderful whirlwind of a town though. Paris is no different; exciting, intoxicating, arrogant and amazing, in equal measure.

      But Iceland…Gretchen, this is a land like no other x

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