Tag Archives: creativity


I explained the reasoning behind my term of unendearment not only because I think it’s important to explain why I’m not crazy about Angers, but also to give you the context necessary to understand the surprise I stumbled upon yesterday evening.

En route to a dinner party, I wandered through the public garden and came across a scene that baffled me. A guy had set up his drums in the gazebo, and was playing what I can only describe as très avant garde. Around him had gathered a small crowd of —dare I say it? can it really be?—French hipsters.

This scene could exist in Minneapolis.

Now, say what you will about hipsters, but I find them to be an indicator species, roughly correlated with the number of interesting & creative people a city has to offer. (I suppose it’s a parabolic function, increasing to a vertex, after which the hipsters are probably too rich to be interesting. For evidence, see Hollywood and Williamsburg, Brooklyn.)

Note the fixed-gear bicycle on the ground. It's only the second time I've seen one in France. (The first was, not surprisingly, in Paris.)

For that reason, I titled the drum solo “Bittersweet Mystery.” These are the sort of people I would have wanted to be friends with all along. Where were they hiding? Why did they wait to come out until I’m about to leave?


Émilie, écrivain

I’ve spent a lot, like, a lot a lot of hours in the past two and a half weeks sitting in front of my computer, so I suppose it’s weird that you haven’t heard more from me. After about four years of thinking, “You know, that’s really something I should try,” I finally have both the will and the free time to participate in NaNoWriMo. The challenge: write 50,000 words in November. Edit later.

It’s a daydream realized, right? I mean, didn’t the sixteen-year-old version of myself, fresh out of a summer creative writing class for nerds, daydream about living in Europe with barely enough money for ramen noodles but an epic story in her heart?

Right. A note to the naïve-but-well-meaning younger version of myself: the poverty part is no fun adventure, babe.

Though I must say, my room is almost exactly what I imagined. Creaky wooden floor, vaulted ceiling—I’m just like Jo in Little Women, only better, because I’m in Europe, where she always wanted to be! Unfortunately, that doesn’t help much when I feel desperate for a change of scenery and can’t even afford a cup of coffee for the sake of having somewhere else to sit.

So, really, NaNoWriMo is perfectly timed. I have no money to go anywhere and it’s rained every day for over a week, anyway, so I actually have nothing better to do than sit in my room, tapping away. Another factor working in my lofty goal’s favor is that the elusive WiFi connection included in my charges doesn’t reach my room. In fact, there’s only one place in France, as far as I can tell, that I get a WiFi signal, which is why you haven’t heard much from me online…

The one place I get the signal is on top of a six-foot shelf, so I have to stand on a stool to use the 'net.

The fact that I’ve spent so much of November writing has had weird secondary effects on me. I’m usually not one to spend so much time in my room, nor so much time alone, period. Luckily, spending all this time alone in my room (I should just go all-out pretentious and call it my “writing studio”) hasn’t bothered me as much as it once would have, except for one deeply significant aspect:

Mon français souffrit. My French is suffering a slow and painful death.

Here I am in my French apartment on a French street in a French town full of French people, but I’ve spent so much time alone, thinking and writing in English, that when I have had occasion for French conversation, it’s been more difficult than it was in October. Shouldn’t I be getting better every day?

So today, dear readers, since I’m unqualified to reflect upon anything else in France, I thought I’d give you a tour of the one oui, oui part of the country I’ve gotten to know entirely too well. (That was a pun on wee, as in, wee little…in case anyone missed it…)

I should note that in the absence of WiFi, my iPhone has provided plenty of distraction. I was pretty good at resisting it until last night, when I impulsively splurged 1E79 on the “Hipstamatic” app, which led me to a pinhole app for another 79 cents. In other words, I bought seven new cameras for under $4 and have done nothing but take pictures of myself and my room since then. If I don’t show them off, then I really can’t rationalize the (already several) hours I’ve spent distracting myself from NaNoWriMo.

Here is my writing studio: drafty window, desk, folding chair I outfitted with a luxurious 3E cushion.

Closer up, you can admire the sundry objects I've acquired: a festive mini-pumpkin, two little petryoshkas who are kind enough to have stakes in their heads so that I may display pictures of my amazing boyfriend, and a gift from a student (one of those things where you put beads on the thing and an adult irons them in place.)

Moving right along, voilà my computer and the plant I bought at the Farmer's Market to improve my studio's feng shui.

Here's my plant's pinhole camera double exposure glamour shot.

Here is the snack I eat to fuel my fingers as they clackety clack away:

I took a picture of it because I find it interesting that unlike in the U.S., where the organic version of something always comes in green and off-white packaging with a sedate label, my French supermarket puts its store brand organics in hot pink and highlighter yellow packaging that even Las Vegas would envy.

My view of France.

Oh, and here’s the view from my window. I took this one several days ago, without fancy photo apps. I’ve spent a lot of time gazing distractedly out that window, and this sweet old Citroen is definitely the most interesting car to have parked out there.

So, there you have it, friends. My life in France. Next month, I’ll try to make it more interesting.