Monday, June 22, 2009
Tidbits From My Reading Life
I've only read the first few pages of this book, but already it strikes me as incredibly true. Entre Nous by Debra Ollivier begins by trying to figure out the secret that makes French women so enviable, successful, indomitable. One adjective doesn't seem to cover it all.
One secret is that French women love sensual pleasure. The feel of smooth pebbles running through the hands. The smell of lavender wafting through the air. The taste of a subtle spice. The sound of a violin with its achingly high notes. The sight of a sky so blue it makes the eyes water. Maybe the reason they wear those silk scarves is because it feels so soft, like a caress whenever they move. So lesson number one from French women: experience everything around us.
Okay, here's something that French women have that I definitely missed out on: discretion. Ollivier says everything they do is deliberate and thought out. I am the queen of output control issues. I've just recently been able to stop embarrassing myself at every outing. No, I take that back. Just yesterday at a swim meet I made a snide remark about a high school boy who is always "injured" and I looked up to see his father there. I continue in my role as least discreet.
Next comes self confidence. French women don't second guess what they wear, who they go out with, their haridos. They seem to have supreme confidence in their choices. Maybe that's because they actually think about them before they jump into them. I'm sure I'll learn a lot from this book. But maybe I should read it in small doses so I don't get depressed about my lack of Frenchness.
Another French book, well, it was written in French and translated, is The Elegance of The Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery. It's a little existential for me but I love the scene where the landlady and the cleaning woman get together for tea. Both of them are deep thinkers but must hide their intelligence from their "betters." When they have tea, they always make coffee, but not to drink. They just like the smell. So they make coffee and enjoy the aroma while they sip tea. It seems somehow decadent, doesn't it? What would our Puritan anscestors say? Waste not, want not. But is it a waste, if they enjoy the scent? Maybe we just need to widen our focus on allowing ourselves to enjoy more of those sensual pleasures.
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