Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Allo, allo?

Je suis a Montreal, au vieux carre de la cite, Outremont. I am in Montreal in an old part of the city called Outremont. It's a ten minute bus ride down to the centre of the old city and the jazz festival going on now, or the art museum which I plan on visiting. Or you can take one of the city- supplied bikes at any one of many ubiquitous locations. There's one about three blocks from this leafy neighborhood of garden townhouses and friendly people. The Boissoneaus are lovely people, Robert and Francoise, and their darling 22 year old son, Nicholas, who is sweet and reminds me of my own gorgeous young man.

One needs a minute to get used to how casual the French are, how warm and unconcerned with the stuff that most americans get uptight over. But that may be because they have free, high quality healthcare here. In fact Robert, my host, availed himself of the local "urgence" (ER) today to see about some flashing lights in his eyes prior to flying off to Europe. He feared a detached retina, surgery, no trip. Goes to ER in a.m., well qualified opthamologist spends a half hour with him, not five minutes, a half hour. Examines his eyes thoroughly, declares it a case of the dehydration of the vitreous liquid behind the retina, typical of aging, and Robert leaves, well cared for, with little waiting time, and it's free. No charge. Sorry , people, this is just a better way to live. Period.

The house is charming, over a hundred plus years old, renovated with all modern amenities. Gorgeous floors, really lofty ceilings, a six foot clawfoot tub and endless hot water, kitchen to die for with every possible gadget and pan, (Robert was once a pastry chef comme moi!) high ceilings throughout, lots of light, lovely Georgetown/Charleston- like garden out back, my little room with a big desk for writing (I chose the small one with a balcony overlooking the jardin), and a five minute walk to every pastry, pate, cafe, epicerie, library, parks galore, and just general oh-thank-you-god-for -giving-me-this- ness you can imagine.

And I most certainly needed it after the super smackdown! I got from the agent in New York who simply found the notion that some women live lives of quiet desperation, with no family to rely on, no friends, devoted to some drunken slob who is mean to them, and with children they would die for, and sometimes do, too incredible to believe. I mean , HALLOO! And she accused me of sexism? Quoi? That agent lives in a tiny world of insular Jewish New Yorkyniss and wouldn't know a good story if it ran her down. Kept trying to tell me I had a failed thriller on my hands, when thriller was never my intention. Her criticisms didn't hold water as they revealed a carelessness on her part when she read, a failure, repeated, to pick up details, and then endless complaints that I left those very same details out of the story! Incroyable! She wanted me to give the reader more than I wanted to, spoon feed the reader, and I refuse to do that. I'm tryin to write something GOOD here, lady, not a fairy tale, or something that will sell to the lowest common denominator. I mean, how can people be so entirely full of sheets?

Needless to say, despite knowing she was very likely wrong and was just too narrow (we used to called them "straight") a person to "get" my characters' idiosyncrasies and humor, I was crushed. It was the snide quality of her comments that got me, never mind they were just plain inaccurate, revealing a prejudgment and careless reading of the material. What did I ever do to deserve snide?

Bet she needs meds to sleep.

I don't.

SO! What does any self-respecting aspiring artiste and foodie do when attacked so cruelly? Well, when in Rome....

I hied on down au Pain Dore ("gilded bread" or french toast, and is it ever!) of course to get me a rich, creamy cafe au lait (I think I'll call that cafe au laid from now on when in Frenchfied areas because it feels that good to drink it) and an eclair au cafe. When I bit into the eclair (my first since Paris in 06), tears -- I kid you not-- TEARS sprang to my eyes at the first taste of that perfect dreaminess.

And WAALAA! I was... redeemed... Screw that bitter old witch of an agent. No romance in that soul.

This cafe, this tiny menu of sweet succor, will be my morning ritual until my heart heals from that mean blow and I am ready to try again with someone new who might actually understand me.

And God bless the French. I would die without them.

truly i would..

please leave a comment.. i could use some.. thanks


  1. Sorry to hear of the agent; her loss! You'll find another I bet.
    What a great choice to go to Montreal - thanks for the house-sitting website.