Friday, June 20, 2008

A Moveable Feast: Paris and Le Fooding

But Paris was a very old city and we were young and nothing was simple there, not even poverty, nor sudden money, nor the moonlight, nor the right and wrong nor the breathing of someone who lay beside you in the moonlight. (A Moveable Feast, Ernest Hemingway, p. 58)

When Cat came to visit, she gave me four things: a Zabar's mug to remind me of home every morning, heart-shaped measuring spoons, rubber measuring cups, and Ernest Hemingway's A Moveable Feast.

In one fitful, insomniac night earlier this week (plagued by bouts of nausea, I didn't sleep much on Monday or Tuesday), I plowed through the entirety of Feast. (To be honest it was my third attempt--the first two were six years ago when I flipped through the French translation Mme S├ębag had given me for my 8th grade graduation. But reading Hemingway in French seemed self-defeating.) It's Hemingway's account of his ex-pat years in Paris in the 20s and 30s. He talks about the struggles of being a budding writer, he describes his circle of friends (no one important really: Gertrude Stein, James Joyce, F Scott Fitzgerald) and he analyzes what it means to be in love with (and in) Paris.

I loved the book like I love Paris. On the whole, it's an easy read with long stretches of uneventful wandering. But there are these magical moments that just grabbed me and I can't shake them and they became the entirety of the book once it became a memory. Paris is like that--the moments of absolute seduction become the only things I know about it--so that even though those transcendent moments are few and far between when I'm actually living there, whenever I'm not in Paris, all I dream about is returning.

There is never any ending to Paris and the memory of each person who has lived in it differs from that of any other. We always returned to it no matter who we were or how it was changed or with what difficulties, or ease, it could be reached. Paris was always worth it and you received return for whatever you brought to it. " (211)

Anyway, aside from illness-induced literary marathons, this week in Paris brought Max, another old high school friend, a night of dancing at Club Rex where I ran into Avis '08 (Harvard people are everywhere), a pseudo picnic in the Jardin du Luxembourg, dinner with my old au pair family, a comfortable (if uneventful) week at work, and an intern lunch with (/narrated by?) the astute Managing Editor Alison Smale:

"We were at Checkpoint Charlie in East Berlin and they pushed me into a small corridor. Somehow an East Berliner followed me and we walked together to the other end. A pimply youth checked my passport, let me through, and then checked the East Berliner's. She must have been high class because it was stamped saying that she could leave, but not until November 17th. It was November 9th.

'You can't go,' the pimply youth said to the East Berliner.
'Can't you see what's happening all around you?' I said. 'November 9th, November 17th, who cares?'
'OK,' the pimply youth said and stepped aside.

And that was how I crossed into West Berlin with the first East Berliner and that was how the Berlin wall fell."

Being a foreign correspondent may not be glamorous or money making, but she does make it seem pretty perfect. My only worry (well one of many) is how much being a journalist is something you can learn or whether it's just something you naturally are. I don't think I'm a "natural" journalist--I'm pretty shy, not the fastest writer in the world, and my memory for names and places is limited. But can that change with time and training? Probably. Plus, for the kind of journalism I dream of doing--longer feature pieces that are less time-sensitive, my not-so-aggressive disposition (see picture) poses less of a problem. We'll see.

[Seriously, I couldn't have timed it better if I tried:] Oh MAN! Just as I was writing about how I hoped the first article I wrote for the IHT would get published, my gmail notifier binged with an email from the reporter in charge of Globespotters.

"Hi Rebecca,
I've just edited your post and placed it on Globespotters. Thanks for your swift response. I'm writing a story myself and don't have time yet to format the illustration that you sent on , but will do it later today. Let's talk later when I'm done with my story.


Ahh!!! It's about a giant Parisian picnic put on by an organization called "Le Fooding" (fooding- food + feeling) that'll take place this Sunday on the Esplanade of the Bibliotheque Nationale. Although its mission to make food more hip, more sexy and more fun may be dated (um The Naked Chef, Top Chef, etc etc), Le Fooding’s goal to shake up traditional cuisine remains a good one.

From pitching to interviewing (in French!) to writing, I had 24 hours to turn in the article. It's really just a brief little blog entry, but still! I remember reading about Le Fooding in Cambridge and wishing I could participate. I'm still actually going to have to miss it (heading out to London tonight), but writing about it is just as good (if not better!).

Woo! Published in Paris!