Updated: Dec 15, 2021
April 15, 2021
Hello hello from Frah-nce !
We're still freezing (our wisteria literally froze to death). We're still on lockdown. But we're staying surprisingly sane. At least our village chose this month to rip out our sidewalks and put in new water pipes. So there are jackhammers, which by the way is awesome for business Zoom calls. Really puts people at ease. There are cigarettes hanging out of mouths. Beer at lunch. And Georges loving it all.
We're calling it cheap babysitting. #parentsoftheyear
Last week was pretty busy with novel excitement. I mentioned on Instagram that we cast our audiobook voiceovers, which was both exciting and a relief since it took about two months to find the right voices. The male lead, a French-American was surprisingly easy and we cast him in two days. The female, on the other hand, was not easy. At all. We either got tons of Gossip Girl (even when the casting explicitly said No Gossip Girl), or voices that we're so close (and seriously so awesome) but not quite.
We even got one tape we swore was this guy from Twin Peaks, which you know I was ALL ABOUT. If only it were that kind of novel...
But we have our team now and recording begins in two weeks, which is when I send my baby, the manuscript, off to school. FUUUUUCK.
So, the last we left off in my novel creation journey was I was heading back to New York for autumn break, I had defied the big mean class president (who really did go off to become a multimillionaire, by the way) who changed the date for no reason and me, class freak extraordinaire planned a punk rock class reunion on the date we all voted on at a local dive bar.
Just to make something clear, I don't give a shit about class reunions. I didn't go to my 10-year and wasn't planning on going to my 20 (yep, I'm old) but since it fell on a date when I'd actually be on the continent I was, like, cool. I mean, I didn't hate high school. I just think high school sort of hated me.
Heading to New York...I woke up in France at 5 am. With my suitcase, I took the commuter train into Paris. From there I took the RER train to Charles de Gaulle. At Charles de Gaulle I found out JFK was oversold (my mom was a flight attendant so this is how I travel - for new readers). From Charles de Gaulle I went to Chicago O'Hare.
There I learned massive winds were threatening to blow New York away so all flights to La Guardia were postponed with stand-by lists growing by then tens and twenties with each postponed flight. At this point, it was 4 pm in Chicago/11 pm in France and my reserve tanks were seriously starting to drain, which was a good thing that I was doing Sober October otherwise I would have been wiped out by now.
As the flights started to fly out again, I knew as a non-paying traveler, my odds were fictional, so I contacted a friend of mine who lives in Wicker Park and arranged to stay with him. No problem. Traveling without kids is like growing a pair of wings. I could do anything! So dinner and catching up with an old friend in Chicago? Sweet.
As I was leaving the airport, hazy, bleary-eyed, feeling all sorts of wavy gravy with the floor and the walls pulsing to a phantom rhythm I could hear in my head, an American Airlines flight to JFK appeared seemingly out of nowhere. And there wasn't a mass of grouchy customers hovering over the ticket agent like at the counters of the La Guardia flights. There was no one. It just didn't make any sense. Notably, from all my mom's years of flying, I had been trained to know that American only did Chicago to La Guardia. Not JFK.
Thinking I was fucking hallucinating, I went up to the counter probably sounding like I did this one time I called my mom on five hits of liquid acid, and said, "Is this a real flight?"
The ticket agent was like, "Why, yes...yes it is a real flight....ma'am."
Within minutes I got on the flight, which felt like my Higher Power (or as I say my HP) majorly stepping in and letting me know that I am so protected. And after eating my quinoa and kale salad that I got out of a vending machine (Oh, America), with giddy abandon, I continued writing about these characters who were dancing in my head.
Looking at my character notes, I had this guy. He was 20. Half-French and played the drums. The drums? Okay...kinda random. I mean, my late father was a drummer but I never thought to write about it. But sure why not. Then there was a girl. Also 20. Italian-New Yorker. Oh my God, I thought...it's me. Then my notes read that said she was introverted and reserved. Okay, so maybe it's not me. And from there, I started piecing more stories together.
Like how we used to rub our Barbie and Ken dolls together to demonstrate they were "having sex" (okay, maybe I just did that), I was putting these characters into scenarios and creating all sorts of tension I felt they should be enjoying.
An hour or so later, we arrived in New York but because the airport was catching up from all the backed-up flights, we hovered for as long as it took us to get there (I hate when they do that - it's so scary when it feels like the pilot just, like, turned the plane off).
Eventually, we landed and from JFK I took an Uber out to Long Island and walked into my house at midnight now being awake and traveling for over 24 hours. My mom woke up surprised to see me because the last we left off I was staying in Chicago. I told her about the mystery flight that appeared and she looked at me and almost rejecting the information, half-awake she said, "But American doesn't do O'Hare to JFK."
Like I said....my Higher Power.
Currently listening to: Convocationsby Sufjan Stevens, 2021
Keeping with the crystals from the past and five hits of acid vibe of this newsletter, I've been listening to this latest Sufjan creation. An instrumental five-volume album he calls "holistic" music, which I'm guessing is a rebranding of New Age. We would have the sold the shit out of these at the shop I worked at."Convocations is Meditations, Lamentations, Revelations, Celebrations, and Incantations—the project is a two-and-a-half-hour, 49-track reflection on a year of anxiety, uncertainty, isolation, and loss...." reads the official statement. It'd be sad if it wasn't so beautiful. It's been helping in keeping the vibe super mellow with the three of us home this month as we maintain a steady and happy work/home environment.
For the launch of this project, he's created this really cool event by live streaming each album on YouTube. Since April 8th, each week he "drops" a new volume and is played on repeat until the release of the next. The music is visually accompanied by gorgeous video art pieces by artist Melissa Fuentes. And it's been fun popping in and out of the rooms to chat with other Sufjan fans who are also majorly digging this project and launch. I encourage you to check it out even if you're not into this kind of music. It's perfect for cooking, working, and tapping into the unknown.
If you've made it to the bottom, I thank you...I know these can get long.
Wishing you an awesome rest of the week!