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Archive for October, 2011

The Secret Lives of Princesses (Sterling: 2010) by Philippe Lechermeier is absolutely the most charming children’s book I’ve read in the past few years. It is very French in it’s inception.  I recommend to any mother wishing to introduce her daughter to a sense of her own mystique.  Thanks to Ariana Csonka Kaleta for introducing us to The Secret Lives of Princesses.

Rozsa’s weekly book excerpt

From Lyric (2009) by Rozsa Gaston

Half an hour later, Dawes and Lyric stood before a perfect example of the concept of less is more.

Balthus - The Mountain courtesy Metropolitan Museum

In front of them was an enormous painting by the French artist, Balthus. A shepherd boy and two girls were on a mountainside, with a cloudless, deep blue sky overhead  One girl lay on her side sleeping on the ground. The second was stretching her arms over her head, in a completely unselfconscious manner as if no one was there. The shepherd boy looked out at the viewer, while a second male figure stood in the distant background looking to one side. None of the four figures looked at each other. A large expanse of empty space stretched separated the pair in the foreground from the two figures in the background.

Dawes found the painting fascinating. From what he could see, Lyric did too. They stood side by side, lost in thought, not saying anything. The painting seemed to capture the essence of mystique, something he’d always been attracted to but had never understood. Lyric possessed it in spades. Did she know?

Clouds by Kathy Chattoraj

He understood the two boys and the two girls in the painting as manifestations of a single male and single female character. The males framed the females. They appeared to be waiting. Of the two females in the middle, one was asleep and one appeared to be vitally awake, stretching her arms over her head with no thought of the men surrounding her. He liked the fact that the girls seemed oblivious to the boys framing them.  He found women most attractive when they thought no one was watching them. It was when they became aware that eyes were upon them that all sorts of social mores and stultifications of their glorious sex set in.

He wanted to see what Lyric looked like asleep and then when she was just waking up. Would he get a chance to do that anytime soon?

Kathy Chattoraj

‘Careful, man, careful,’ an inner voice counseled him. Instinctively he knew he had to slow down his speeding thoughts so as not to scare away the magical creature standing so near him. This time, he would not be his own worst enemy. He would listen to the subtle cues of someone so totally opposite to him that it made his toes curl just to think of how fully she might complete him, if she chose to. He had to give her the room to make that choice. Crowding her would only drive her away.

Kathy Chattoraj

Lyric slowly turned her head to meet his gaze and then she closed her eyes as if mentally willing him to tell her his thoughts.

“You’re right,” he whispered, leaning down to her ear. ”Less is more,” he said referring to the wide open expanse of the meadow in the painting. His lips brushed her ear as his words came out.

From Lyric (2009) by Rozsa Gaston

What wine would you sip while contemplating this quote? The accent would be on “sip” as opposed to “guzzle” when contemplating the power of words and their ability to come back to haunt us.  “In vino veritas” they say, or in wine there is truth. However, too much truth, delivered too truthfully, can result in an undesirable outcome. Therefore, I would sip sparingly while contemplating the way words travel. Perhaps a light Sancerre (to render it’s imbiber sincere yet diplomatic).  Try a Claude Riffault Les Chasseignes Sancerre 2009. About $12 per bottle.

Artwork for sale by Kathy Chattoraj at kpalmer70@hotmail.com

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Occupy Wall Street 10-1-11

Rozsa’s weekly book excerpt

From Paris Adieu (2011) by Rozsa Gaston

Bon soir, Mademoiselle,” the clerk greeted me like an old familiar customer. A bad sign. “Vous desirez?”

What did I desire? So much that I couldn’t even begin to say. Sighing, I pointed at the tray of Bretons, practically beaming at me in their neat, cream-topped pastry shells.

Mark Rufalo at Occupy Wall Street 10-5-11

“One Breton, please,” I said, wanting to say three. Fake it ‘til you make it,’ fought with, The pastry shop closes in fifteen minutes. This is your last chance to load up on whatever delicacies you’re breaking your diet with today. While warring thoughts battled, I pretended to the clerk I only wanted one Breton.

“Only one today?” she asked, clearly wondering why I wasn’t ordering the multiples I usually did. She was on to me.

Occupy Wall Street 10-1-11

I steamed, aware she thought I was an out-of-control, fat American pig. I’d show her. Right then and there, I decided I was not.

Two months ago I’d been the girl who ordered a minimum of three pastries every time I’d entered the shop. Now I was someone new, a mature, twenty-year old woman with a yen for something sweet. I was here to order one pastry only, to satisfy that yen. That was all.

“Yes. Only one,” I responded firmly. ‘Fake it til you make it’ beat out, The shop is closing in fifteen minutes’. It was an enormous victory. One I’d won post-break up with a boyfriend who’d striven to keep me plump. A double triumph.

It took all the willpower I possessed to wait patiently while she wrapped up the lone Breton in white paper, tying it neatly with string, then handing it to me. Equally succulent delicacies were beckoning to me from all directions. “Take me home now. It’s your last chance. Buy me now, you can eat me tomorrow. Don’t you want to have something on hand in case you get hungry later, after eating that one measly Breton?”

It was enough to make a rock sweat.

Michael Moore at Occupy Wall St 10-4-11

Turning smartly, I exited the shop. Behind me the clerk sang out, “Au revoir, Mademoiselle,” in what sounded like tones of new respect.

Next, I picked up a few cartons of strawberry fromage maigre as well as a 1.5 liter bottle of water. The urge to drink water all day long, as Frenchwomen purportedly did, had not yet taken me over, even after eight months in Paris. According to French fashion magazines, French women swore by drinking at least two liters of water daily to maintain their svelte forms. I would give it a try that evening.

Back in my room, I sat down at my desk unwrapping the creamy Breton as if it were a prize objet d’art. In my mind, it was.

Before lighting into it, I took three long swigs of mineral water. The idea was to fill my stomach so my appetite was quelled before I began to eat.

Occupy Wall Street 10-7-11

The long swigs of water had no effect on my hunger whatsoever. Unfortunately my appetite was regulated not by how full my stomach was but how raging my insane desire for sweets was. This had to stop.

I sat there and contemplated the Breton: sniffing, salivating and practically lactating at the sight of it.  How could I convince myself this one lowly Breton was enough to satisfy my bottomless yen for sugar and fat?

“Fake it ‘til you make it,”  I repeated three times, aware that no amount of stating my credo aloud could turn my desire for three Bretons in one sitting into a desire for only one.

Then I ate it.  Delicious.

I swigged some more water.

I pretended I was satisfied.

I wasn’t.

Sighing, I lay down on my bed.

Only one thing could get my mind off food.

From Paris Adieu(2011) by Rozsa Gaston. Coming out on Amazon.com, Dec. 2011.

All photos courtesy of Bill Gaston (2011)

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Wednesday, October 5th, 2011 by rozsagaston

Coming out December 2011

“Stay hungry. Stay foolish.” These were the words printed on the back cover of The Whole Earth Catalog’s final regular issue in 1972. They were quoted by Steve Jobs in his 2005 commencement address at Stanford University.

R.I.P. Steve Jobs. You have entered the immortal pantheon.

When I think of Jobs, a quote by Rabindranath Tagore springs to mind — “Age considers; youth ventures.”  Thank you, Steve, for venturing.

Rozsa’s weekly book excerpt

From Paris Adieu (2011) by Rozsa Gaston

“Will you wait for me?”  he asked. Unfairly, I thought.

Ça dépend, Arnaud.”  Nor would I promise him anything at that moment. “It depends” was all he was getting from me.  It wasn’t a response from the heart, but my heart had gone into hiding from the moment he’d mentioned leaving for Thailand the next day.

Ça dépend de quoi?” he demanded.

“It depends on you.”

He looked confused; exactly how I wanted to leave things with him — unsure and wanting more. Without a word I got out of the car then slammed the door shut.

Arnaud jumped out the driver’s side, slamming his door with equal force.

Qu’est-ce que tu as, cherie?” he asked. I knew that question from time spent with Jean-Michel.

“You know what’s wrong, Arnaud. Could you open the trunk please?” I didn’t mean to be upset, but him leaving for Asia for the next two weeks had not been on my radar screen of foreseeable events.  At least he hadn’t said two months.

He complied, pulling my two bags out and placing them on the sidewalk. Then he put an arm on either side of me and backed me up against the side of his Peugeot. All I needed now was for Henri or Marceline to show up. They were probably at the living room window that very moment, taking in the whole scene.

“I’ll be back in ten days, two weeks at the most. Tu me manqueras – you will miss me.”

What was that — a command? Had he just said I would miss him?

“No, Arnaud. You will miss me,” I shot back, incensed by his incredible cheek.

“That’s what I said, cherie. Tu me manquera énormément.”

Had he just said ‘You will miss me enormously?’  Yes I would, but that wasn’t for him to say, was it?  Some sort of miscommunication was going on here.  I needed to get away before everything we had just begun went up in smoke and flames.

“Goodbye, Arnaud.”

À la prochaine, Ava.”  See you next time.

Not trusting myself to refrain from escalating combat further, I picked up my suitcases, turned and smartly walked into the building.   There would be plenty of time to sort out our parting conversation later. Ten full days, in fact — perhaps fourteen.

I seethed as I made my way upstairs.  Thousands of miles from New York City and here I was, again dealing with flighty man problems.

*          *          *          *          *

The next morning I bumped into Marceline in the kitchen, all eight months along of her.

She waddled toward the counter where I sat, coffee cup in hand.

“And how was the weekend?” she asked, looking curious.

“It was good,” I said, avoiding her eyes.

“Then why so sad?” she followed up. She was right. I was in the dumps.

It wouldn’t do to punch a pregnant woman. In any case, it was Arnaud I wanted to hit.  I was still confused about our conversation curbside the evening before.

“Marceline?”

“Yes?” She looked surprised to hear me address her by name.

“What does “tu me manqueras” mean?

She smiled.

“I will miss you,” she explained.

“But doesn’t it mean “you will miss me?” I asked, confused. That’s what it had sounded like.

“It’s a common mistake.  In English you put yourself first. But in French you put the other person first.  It’s like “Ça me plaît.”

“What do you mean?”

I mean you say “I like that,”  in English, but we say “Ça me plaît — that pleases me.”

“So do you mean to say if I say ‘tu me manqueras’ it means ‘I’ll miss you’ even though it sounds like ‘you will miss me?’”

Exactement.”  The grin widened on her face.

“And what does ‘tu me manqueras énormément’” mean? I asked, although it was pretty clear. I just needed a native French speaker to confirm it.

“Is that what he said to you?”

I blushed. “I’m just asking what it means.”

“Right. It means “I’ll miss you a lot –  enormously.”

“Oh.” I stared into my coffee cup.

“Did he go somewhere?”

I nodded.

“For how long?”

“Ten days to two weeks.”

“Oh.”  She took a deep sip of her coffee with milk. “That’s not so long.”

“It seems long to me.”

“Try waiting nine months.”

I looked at her and laughed. She had a point. “You’re almost there, Marceline. It will all be worth it in a few weeks’ time.”

“If I can wait this long then you can wait two weeks.”

“But what if he doesn’t call?”

“That depends on you.”

“What do you mean?”

“How did you leave it with him?”

“I — uh — I was sort of mad.” I shook my head, thinking of our dust-up on the sidewalk.

“Were you mean to him?” Marceline asked enthusiastically.

“Uh — malheureusement, oui — unfortunately, yes.”

“Très bien,” she approved. “He’ll call.”

From Paris Adieu (2011) by Rozsa Gaston

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