So I’m out with this photo journalist from New York who is doing a story on the Paris Letters and the book, and me and my process, and how I got from the insanity of my corporate gig in California to my super sane artistic self here in Paris. Super sane. Riiight. *rolls eyes.*
I take her for a walk in my neighborhood and show her the scene that inspired my next Paris Letter. We talk and walk, shoot photos and talk more.
Sounds sane so far, right?
But on the way, we swing by Hemingway’s old apartment on 74 rue du Cardinal Lemoine because she’s never been and it’s always good to cross a tourist site off the list.
Still pretty sane so far.
Nearby is Descartes Café. I stop short because I notice that they have fancy new chairs outside. I’m intrigued. The waiter is outside and I say, in my basic French (but paraphrase for you in my California lingo), “Dude, what’s up with the chairs? Are they new?” He nods and says they renovated the whole inside of the restaurant, too. “Come on in,” he says. In French. And I understand him. This is a marvelous moment. I’m TALKING in FRENCH to a FRENCH PERSON and he knows what I’m saying.
Progress, people. Progress.
So I go inside to sniff the new paint. She takes photos of me conversing with French people because I seem so NORMAL conversing with French people in French. She mentions as we leave that I could write my daily morning pages at this café.
And that’s where the crazy creeps in.
I tell her that though it’s nice, there is a metal edge on the bar, put there on purpose so people don’t spill their drinks over the side. It’s like a stopper. A common speed bump in the bars of Paris. This is good news for drinkers but for writers it presents a problem because the longer you sit at a bar with a metal edge writing in your journal, the more bruised you get on the underside of your forearm. The only way to stop it is to wrap your arm with a scarf or wear a really thick sweater. And even then..
She nods, baffled but polite.
We walk on and stop near the Pantheon where we come upon a weird bronze sumo wrestler statue. A guy comes up and asks if he can do a quick interview on my thoughts about this statue. I nod and start talking. She’s snapping away. We’re back to super sane.
But you know where this is going.
Because afterward, we went into an art supply shop. And that’s where my cup of insanity runneth over. I spotted my favourite journal: The Apica Twin Ring 7 x 10.
I shrieked because I bought out the supply from another boutique and I was sweating bullets wondering if I’d find more. I have had to resort to ordering them online, which is not preferred when you live in Paris because the post office might as well be called:
La Place Des Pas Possibles
Because they LOVE to tell me everything is “pas possible,” whenever I run into a postal snag like, for instance, getting a package delivered. Because packages aren’t really “their thing.” OMG. I wish I was exaggerating. Sadly, non.
But I digress.
So I’m in the art supply store going ON about these journals. Then I come across the paintbrushes and rattle on about the perfect brush. I turn and find a pencil that is so perfect I nearly fall over in amazement at how great it feels in my hand. I make her hold it. She nods because she’s polite.
At this point, my crazy cup hath runneth over.
I have ceased talking about my artistic process and showed her the truth: I’m mostly in love with the art supplies first. Art a distant second. The book, a distant third. Not that art and the book are not great. But the art supply fascination lives in the same place as my morning coffee in my head.
Need. To. Have… Must. Have.
I came home that night and recounted the crazy in my head. The dread surfaced. Why did I tell her about the bruised wrist thing, and about how the twin ring binding makes the journal lay flat on a surface unlike the normal binding on lesser journals, how the cream paper colour and the grey lines are easy on the eyes, how the pencil, with its triangular shape hugs all three fingers that hold it, making it the perfect trifecta of pencil design.
The perfect trifecta of pencil design?
I said this out loud? Yes I did. Oh Lord.
But I suppose that’s how it is with artists. We’re a little crazy about our art supplies. Or maybe we’re just a little crazy.