Thursday, November 29, 2012

Tough call, but I believe I'll take numerous trips to Paris over poisonous berries.

"Road trip: those are still the two most inspiring words to vagabonds and couch potatoes alike; after all, the great American spirit was forged by road trippers from the Pilgrims to Lewis and Clark to the Dharma Bums. Le Road Trip combines the appeal of the iconic American quest with France's irresistible allure, offering readers a totally new perspective of life on the road. Le Road Trip tells the story of one idyllic French honeymoon trip, but it is also a witty handbook of tips and advice on how to thrive as a traveler, a captivating visual record with hundreds of watercolor illustrations, and a chronicle depicting the incomparable charms of being footloose in France. Armchair travelers, die-hard vagabonds, art journalists, and red wine drinkers will all find something to savor in this story." - Review,

Road trip, vagabond, great American spirit, irresistible allure, iconic quest, witty handbook, captivating visual record, incomparable charms, red wine drinkers...One of my greatest hopes is to write a book one day both inspired by and reflective of this most perfect of combinations.  If a product of numerous trips to Paris or Prague rather than an Into the Wild journey, all the better.
If you've read this blog much at all, you are well aware of my obsession with all things Vivian Swift. I love her wit, her confidence tinged with self-deprecating hilarity, her slightly Bob Ross-esque illustrations (by the way, I saw in a magazine yesterday that there is actually a BR teacher certification program), her ability to tell a story, her willingness to say things others might deem irreverent and blasphemous, but that remain unequivocally funny (but not mean-spirited), and her appreciation of the little things that make her happy. 

Despite this adoration, however, her most recent book, Le Road Trip, has cozily rested on my bookshelf for months, the hidden nook it has occupied since April.  I had pre-ordered it.  I was so excited when I picked it up at the post office. I have read reviews and her blog religiously since early spring.  Why the wait then to even crack the cover? 

I don't really know the answer to this, but I assume it has something to do with me considering it the "perfect last bite," the literary "Christmas morning," the "saved-for/long-awaited/much-needed vacation departure" (the one in which I would be wearing something totally hip like the stuff I pin on Pinterest, but don't actually own).  Sometimes the anticipation is where inspiration is found.  Sometimes it is hard to start something we don't want to inevitably end.  Sometimes the quest is the irresistible allure. 

And sometimes we just sit down, forget about the sadness we may feel when it's over, and relish the incomparable charm of the actual experience.
Probably my favorite passage thus far...

What is the official color of Paris?
A. Gray Without Melancholy, as in the sky on a typical overcast day in the Ile-de-France.
B. The honey color of the morning sun warming up the Oise limestone exterior of the Louvre.
C. The quicksilver surface of the Seine in the wake of a Bateau-Mouche.
D. Mansard Blue, the color of Paris rooftops with the sound of an Edith Piaf record playing in the background.

All of the above"  (27)
"Gray without melancholy"....oh, that's good. 

Take some time this weekend to think about how you would describe your own town or your favorite vacation spot. 

The Catbird Seat in Nashville is not a French restaurant.  However, when I imagine French cuisine, I think of beautiful presentations, small decadent bites, and a fundamental ethos that eating is not just about consumption, but an appreciation of the food culture.  If you find yourself with a particularly fat wallet one week, I encourage you to try this somewhat hidden Nashville gem.  I have to admit, it is a pretty amazing experience.

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