Paris Letters by Janice MacLeod
Finished on September 2, 2014
Rating: 4/5 (Very Good)
Finding love and freedom in a pen, a paintbrush… and Paris
How much money does it take to quit your job?
Exhausted and on the verge of burnout, Janice poses this question to herself as she doodles on a notepad at her desk. Surprisingly, the answer isn’t as daunting as she expected. With a little math and a lot of determination, Janice cuts back, saves up, and buys herself two years of freedom in Europe.
A few days into her stop in Paris, Janice meets Christophe, the cute butcher down the street—who doesn’t speak English. Through a combination of sign language and franglais, they embark on a whirlwind Paris romance. She soon realizes that she can never return to the world of twelve-hour workdays and greasy corporate lingo. But her dwindling savings force her to find a way to fund her dreams again. So Janice turns to her three loves—words, art, and Christophe—to figure out a way to make her happily-ever-after in Paris last forever.
Another selection for the 2014 Paris in July reading challenge, this one turned out to be a winner! I managed to read the entire book in just one week, which these days is a huge accomplishment for me. Littered with two dozen Post-It Notes, this book is one I plan to hang on to for future reference, right next to Eloisa James’ Paris in Love. I don’t know when, but I’m definitely planning to visit Paris… someday!
Inspiration to De-Clutter:
By night, I moved on from my closets to delve into my cupboards. I tossed dried-up nail polishes and hairbrushes. I only used one hairbrush. Why did I have six? I used up the rest of my teeth whitening gel. I gave up on and tossed the recipes I’d clipped for dishes I never made. I tossed the free CD of weird music I never listen to from that yoga class I stopped going to. The old yoga mat, the deflated yoga ball, the broken yoga straps, the expired yoga membership…tossed. Half-filled journals of half-baked ideas, the stack of phone books from the last five years [who uses phones books anymore?!], broken flowerpots that I kept with thoughts of making something crafty from them, the broken frames I meant to fix…tossed. Makeup samples, swag from film industry party gift bags, sunglasses with scratches [eh-hem], a home phone even though I didn’t have a land line anymore, chargers for cell phones I didn’t have anymore, computer boxes for computers I didn’t have either, instruction manuals for electronics that I didn’t even remember having, the wrong-sized vacuum bags I never returned, checkbooks for accounts I no longer had…tossed. And loyalty cards that promised savings on everything I bought. Tossed. I’d save more by not buying.
This brought a smile to my face:
By June, the sixth month into my journaling year, I had crossed plenty off my list of unfinished business and let go of many items, such as most of my books and one of my guitars. I was ruthless. I knew, without knowing where I was going, that I wouldn’t need this stuff when I got there.
But one item stopped me in my tracks.
My Kris Kristofferson album.
I haven’t owned a record player since my single-digit years, but I couldn’t bring myself to get rid of this album. This record was pilfered from my parents’ collection. When I was a kid, I would gawk at this album cover and stare into his steely blue eyes. Kris Kristofferson was a real artist. A great lyricist and a pretty good actor. When I looked at Kris, I thought, “This guy is so good at everything he does. And what he does is so cool. I want to do something cool.” I kept the album.
On the magic of bookstores:
My haste to get outside is based on an exciting call I received after lunch. The book I ordered has arrived at the local English bookstore. There is something poetic about a good old-fashioned bookstore. I used to have Amazon deliver books to my door. I’ve always had a love for mail. And these days, I’ll be the first to brag about the convenience and pleasure of e-books. The instant access to English books in a French-speaking land is a magical delight. But there is magic in traditional bookstores too. It’s a magic you can feel in the air. The smell of aging paper, of ink, and of people. And in Paris, some of those people were Hemingway and Fitzgerald.
This delightful memoir, with its black-and-white drawings and countless travel suggestions, is the perfect armchair guide to "La Ville-Lumière.” Not only do I plan to peruse it again at a later date, I’ve also just discovered the author’s blog, which I know will keep me entertained for many, many months. Paris Letters is all that Eat Pray Love hoped to be, but without the prayer and the navel-gazing.