You Can't Get Paris Syndrome on Staycation

I just finished reading Z by Therese Anne Fowler, a novel based on the life of Zelda Fitzgerald. While Zelda's malaise was not exactly Paris Syndrome, she nevertheless had an unfavorable experience with the city and its effects on herself and her incorrigible husband.

Zelda was born into a life of luxury. She married a brilliant young novelist who got fairly rich fairly early in his life. She never needed to get a job to support herself or her family. She had only one child, who was mostly raised by a nanny. She traveled frequently, spoke several languages, danced ballet, exhibited her own talent for writing, and lived in many decadent homes and resorts in several nations. And yet, she and her husband were not as prolific at writing as one might expect, because gin is a helluva drug.

I am a strong believer in travel and adventure as creative inspirations. And yet, sometimes, travel is more trouble than it's worth.

Like when you and your husband can't get all your vacations lined up and you can't afford multiple trips a year (and you have another French-themed adventure on this year's calendar) and your daughter has just begun training with the world's greatest teacher of Shidokan and doesn't want to miss class while he's in town.

only 1/16 French
So this week, which is my daughter's spring break and my vacation from work, I have been enjoying my travels and adventures vicariously. In addition to Z, I thoroughly enjoyed Frog Music by Emma Donoghue, another historical novel about French-speaking people but set in San Francisco. I'm watching artsy French movies and admiring the je ne sais quoi of all those older French women who manage to be fascinating with no makeup, rumpled hair, and clothes that look like they were grabbed in the dark from a corner of the bedroom floor. I think it is the ironclad DGAF attitude combined with the sensuality of the French language itself, but then again, I don't know what it is. I only know that I love it.

Here in the land of Michigan, we are experiencing an unfortunate April blizzard, so we have spent most of this week holed up at home with a large basket of fancy European Easter chocolates, a fine box of Chardonnay, and a toasty fire in the wood stove. I have helped Nux Gallica with two ornate manicures involving a lot of stickers.

We have only left the house for karate lessons, crêpes and lattes at a saucy downtown cafe called For Crêpe Sake, the library for French books and films (including Madeline cartoons for the mademoiselle), and the grocery store for authentic-enough baguettes and wine.

Meanwhile, I have set a challenging goal of writing a good chunk of my novel this week, because if poor old Zelda could get a novel published by age 34 despite her husband's hard-partying ways and her own onset of schizophrenia, I guess I should pick up the pace.

Au revoir!


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