The building reads: "Printers Binders"... now we're talking (read on in today's story)! Photo taken near Union Square, New York City

A million mercis for your responses to my last post. It's going to take me a while to send proper thanks. I may have to "speed-mail" those remerciements? Thanks for your understanding.
la laque (lak) noun, feminine
  hair spray

Example (and tip?) from the book "Des petits tuyaux pour votre jardin" by Marymée Murch & Rosa Lempert-Andreyev.
La laque à cheveux fait fuir les insectes volants. C'est plus sain qu'un insecticide chimique.... Hair spray makes flying insects flee. It's healthier than a chemical insecticide...

Listen to today's word and quote: Download laque.mp3 . Download laque.wav


I am eager to get back to the writing of light, quirky, slice-of-French life stories that represent this "vie en rose," pink and bubbling like champagne, sweet with nary a bitter aftertaste. Meantime, I find myself at a fork in the writing road.

Last week I was in New York City to peddle prose "penned" over the past year. In funky coffee shops, elite show-your-ID-in-order-to-enter buildings, and offices that look like a backdrop to avant-garde film, I courted publishing house divas and literary agents with a long line of literary darlings under their belts.

As a tongue-tied toad might court a princess, I proceeded to woo, or would-be woo, the movers-and-shakers of manuscripts. Sweating at the brow, beneath the sleeve, and even at the tip of my nose (a very odd and embarrassing stress reflex which has me perpetually holding a wad of toilet paper to my beak), I was at once bashful and bold, meek and megalomaniac, modest... but mostly blubbering.

Over all, I talked too much when a trusty "ribet" might have won 'em over. Thankfully my sister, Heidi, stood beside me for moral support, ever ready to sharp-elbow me into needed composure. I wished she'd have pried that wad of paper from my wet nose and stuffed it into my dry mouth. To her credit, she tried (to speak for me, that is, and avoid the gag). But even she, having spent her childhood trying to, couldn't save me from myself.

At Prime Burger on 51st, I studied my editor's* face as I pitched the story of my life: a "Glass Castle* meets A Year in Provence" blockbuster, never mind that the only thing I have in common with Jeannette Walls is an eccentric nonconformist artist mom with too much IQ and a trailer park childhood: OK,
maybe a few more similarities (childhood cooking accidents: my mom almost lost her foot-warmer (our oven) when I set fire to a cheese crisp) and differences: our single-wide trailer (spared in that fire) was parked just a few lanes and "spaces" over from the freeway.

The contrast between those aluminum walls of childhood and these polished stone murs* of middle life speaks volumes. But bendable, metal walls and massive French stone only book-end my life: it is what happened between the American aluminum and the French façades that matters. There, a quiet desert wash, a quixotic single mom, and plenty of books formed a future Francophile. Between Tele-evangelism and Tolstoy (Mom welcomed all sorts of inspiration, whatever it took to get out of bed and face another day), I made it to France... only to be de-programmed by a Frenchman. It wasn't religion or literature that needed breaking down, but all that trailer park hairspray: for what I lacked in culture I made up for in form: that is, in the form of a concrete aerosol "cap" (and not one hair out of place!).

I haven't heard back from those publishers and agents. More than a toad, I fear I came off as Howdy Doody on Draino (if only I could slide quietly back down the sink pipe, now, to the base of my pond and into obscurity). Chalk it off to cowboy roots or trailer trash ties. I dunno. I did my transparent best. In any case, and while it may be against my best interests (nothing new there, but I've come a long way...), would you like to read the first chapter of my story?

And, what the heck, here's a P.S. teaser: By the time you have finished my book, if I should have what it takes to write this one, I think you'll agree that my decision to move to a charming French farm was, more than easy, absolutely absurd. But that doesn't mean it wasn't the best decision. After all, somebody had to be looking out for me. God knows I couldn't.

my editor = Amanda Patten (Simon and Schuster) for "Words"
The Glass Castle = Jeannette Walls rocks! Read her book now!;
A Year in Provence ; le mur (w) = wall

"La Femme Chocolat" by the award winning Olivia Ruiz
Maison Francaise -- decorating tips (and great pics) in this *French language* magazine
French Before You Know It Deluxe--quickly learn to understand and speak French

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For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety