Que Faire?

September 25, 2006 at 12:51 pm | Posted in art, backstory, books, food, plans, writing | 8 Comments

In July of this past summer, I learned that I would be moving to Paris in the fall. Understandably excited, I ran right out and told everyone I knew. That was until I started getting the question.

The question:

Oh! How lovely! But what are you going to do there?

And no matter how many times I hear this question (and oh, it’s been a lot of times now), I never fail to be dumbfounded by it. It’s not because I naively thought my life would somehow end the minute I got to Paris — it’s just that I have no idea what kind of answer people are looking for.

All I can think is that they must want to hear about my job. But well, just because I’ve moved here doesn’t mean I’ve got permission to work. Besides, I’m generally lazy and lacking in any useful talent or skill, so regular jobs and I have never really gotten along.  Perhaps I could be a student? Well, sure, but… enh. I survived 16 years of hewing to the arbitrary desires of teachers and professors — can’t I have a few years to hew to my own arbitrary desires?

No, I am neither gainfully employed nor am I a student. So what exactly do I intend to do with my days? A wee list:

1) Write
I know I haven’t mentioned it before, but I’m a writer, in the sense that I type words onto a screen and then try to make them look pretty. Not, however, in the sense that I am being paid for this work.

Still, I would very much like to be paid for this work one day, which is why I have spent the last *not quite three years* of my life writing a novel. I’m currently in the process of trying to get people to A) read this novel, B) like this novel, and C) give me money in exchange for this novel. Sounds simple, but it’s actually rather challenging.

Over the course of this year, I’ll be sending out queries, fielding responses, and revising like mad until I’ve produced something that someone, somewhere (with some money) thinks is not too bad.

I’ll also, God willing, be writing some new stuff, too. I have a few ideas.

2) Read
In my last few years of arduous writing, I haven’t had the time or inclination to read much. I hope to change that, as well as to take advantage of this year abroad to read French books, an activity which I find entirely draining when in America, and will hopefully be less so here.

I’m currently reading Madame Bovary in paperback, and Les Liaisons Dangereuses over here (join us!). Once finished, I hope to tackle the second volume of A La Recherche de Temps Perdu, and that will probably take me the rest of my life.

3) Look at art
Paris has a lot of art museums. It also has a lot of galleries. I have a digcam, which means you will see what I see. Hopefully I’ll think of some things to say about the art, too.

4) Eat
And cook. And shop for food. This has to happen no matter where you live, but in Paris, it’s a lot more entertaining. Expect pics.

5) Other
Including, but not limited to, sleeping, breathing, walking, worrying moodily about my future, running into friends unexpectedly, drinking beer in cafes, surfing the web, sprinkling my French with faux-amis, screwing up metric/english conversions, and avoiding dog poo.



  1. I think part of this is the American obsession with WORK. It’s insane. No one in Iceland ever asked me what I did for a job unless it was somehow relevant that what I did for a job seemed to be exactly what it was – absolutely nothing.

    Since I’ve been back though, there have always been the same two questions about my living in Iceland. “Why?!” (I let that one pass. Iceland is pretty weird.) And then – “What did you DO there?”

    What I did was live as a quasi-legal immigrant, most of the time without a work permit, alternately sitting on my couch, working on art, teaching myself about photography, and trying NOT to go insane.

    Trying not to go insane sometimes takes all day. I don’t know how people even have TIME for a job. 😉

  2. Hey, how’d you find me? I’m still in beta… I wasn’t going to make an official announcement until I got the owl out of my header.

    Anyway, I suppose in a lot of ways this is pretty similar to your experience — except at least I speak the language. From now on when people ask, I’ll just refer them to you. “Sonja said it was okay!”


  3. Blog referrer stats. You should up as having sent people to me when I checked the Divine Providence records. This is what I LOVE about WordPress, as opposed to livejournal. I see the traffic! Like little wee cars, you all are. I see you!

    Also, I love the owl.

    Although really, if you’re going to get down to it, not speaking the language in Iceland was very unique set of difficulties dealing with an overly nationalistic society and not at all hindering my daily life. EVERYBODY speaks English. Nothing is packaged in Icelandic anyway and with my knowledge of German, I could decipher cooking directions in Danish and Norwegian, or at least offer an approximation that yielded some good food. I get by just fine on written Icelandic, thanks to subtitles, enough so that I feel like if people could pepper their phrases with such classics from Law & Order such as “Move to remand!” and hold up signs while they were talking, I’d be fluent in a week. But anyway, it’s not quite the same as not speaking French in France – it was a constant annoyance as opposed to something that hindered my ability to get around.

  4. ugh. “should up” = “showed up.” Stupid morning.

  5. Blog referral stats are nice and all (I’m used to them from my deardonut.com days), but don’t you miss threaded comments? And emailed replies to comments? And lack of ability to change colors? I guess I’ll get used to it, but those are the things I’m missing right now.

  6. I think eating in Paris is a full time job.

    I have a new blog too, off LJ. Linked above!

  7. Yeah, I miss threaded comments and emailed replies. I like WordPress’ layout choices better than LJ’s though.

    Though the lack of threaded comments/email does relieve me of the pressure to reply to EVERYTHING that people say, whether I have a response or not.

  8. When I go home to Canada, I’m always asked by friends of my mom what I “do” in Paris.

    I don’t tell them what I “do”. I tell them where I work. It sounds less boring and JGrisham makes that sort of place sound exciting when it is dull, dull, dull.

    Honestly? They twitter in delight. It’s scary.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.
Entries and comments feeds.

%d bloggers like this: