So, Paris.

I went back. The last place I visited when I left the UK, the first one to visit after such a long spell stuck in the island. My third visit.

It was a last minute thing, planned before I could even know it, and it was the best decision I've made this year (and I've made MANY decisions this year, of all years).

There's something magical about that city. Forgive the banality, because everyone thinks Paris is romantic, magic, blablabla, but that city fascinates me in a way New York used to before I left Brazil (and found out that no, people don't live like they're permanently inside Central Perk - as in the iconic cafe from Friends, not the pArk - or do they?). But it should be mostly because Paris is simply NOT London. It's absolutely the opposite. People there seem to live smaller but better lives. You grow up in your arrondissement going to the same cafes, butchers, fishmongers, cheese shop, book shop, whatever the local business is, but which nevertheless is LOCAL. You don't see the tiresome, ultra boring chains like Starbucks or Boots or Tesco - the law doesn't even allow them to open branches inside the city. There's the love of all things that matter in life constantly present: they cherish their food, their drink, their artists, their social circles in which no one ever cares much what you do in life, as long as it is meaningful to you.

Meaningful. The idea I get everytime I go to Paris is that this is it, life happens only once, and you better make the most of it while you can.


On my second day I finally went to Shakeaspeare and Company, the legendary bookstore for expats with only books in English. The place is just heaven. Books pile up from top to bottom on every inch of its old but increadibly cozy shop floor, spread in two floor. Among infinite shelves, beds complete with duvets and pillows wait for the next reader to curl up with a book. The beds are in fact there for the staff, peniless writers (most of them Americans trying to emulate the Hemingway experience) who work shifts of 2 hours at the shop in exchange of shelter in the most inspiring workplace imaginable. That said, the shop is constantly crowded, so I'm sure the resident writers must struggle a bit to produce anything, what with the lack of space and silence. But there are always the cafes nearby, with their characteristically small tables, great food, and clouds of smoke, providing that longed-for Hemingway-nian atmosphere.

I would love to be able to spend sometime there as a writer in residence. It's so impossibly romantic and unnatainable that it should be worth the lack of proper food, sleep, or any living arrangements, for that matter.

Who knows. Paris inspires people to try romantic things...

Grown-up. Grown-up?

I remember mentioning here earlier, maybe months, maybe more than a year ago, that the hustle and bustle of everyday life was not enough anymore to make my foundations tremble. Daily or routine problems, like sorting things out with banks, landlords or demanding colleagues/relatives/flatmates/whoever is close wouldn't make me bat an eyelid. I think I even said I was growing up. Ha. How mistaken I was. Not caring about problems did NOT mean I was growing up - it meant I was just delaying it. Until I could not avoid it anymore (hell, I'm even getting my first wrinkles), and then here I am, living grown-up life and bloody hating all the stress it involves. The problem with facing up to your responsabilities means you could never be a perfectionist. Meaning, you SHOULD NEVER expect things to go your way, because if they can avoid it, my friend, they will. But as the nice responsible tax-paying adult you are, you will do your best to make things work for you, and my god, do they stress you out!

So here I am, purely stressed out, mostly because of small things, insignificant details, because they are the ones which nag me the most. I want everything to work perfectly, they never do (they never DID for that matter!), therefore I suffer.

I'm ashamed of it, though.

What I have to learn is not the NOT CARING thing. Is the LETTING THINGS GO thing.



There are several things that make me anxious. Lack of money is an obvious one. Lack of time, lack of sleep, bad hair day, fear of rejection, not knowing what to say, not being able to see my loved ones... the list is gigantic, and that probably says a lot about the person I am. But the one thing that probably bothers me the most is lack of silence. Not being able to hear my own thoughts and make sense of them, or absorb information and understand my own feelings, drives me crazy - and generally, I can only do this when there's silence around me (or something near silence. People working on their own things with low background music, is fine - but not ideal). After all this years living in London I've come to realise that silence is probably the only and most difficult commodity to obtain, of all the others: money, status, security,family, friends, they all will probably come to everyone at a certain point in life, if they work towards getting them. But silence, in a city like London, only becomes harder and harder to reach with time. Look at my own life: I have a partner who lives with me and (now) four flatmates and two cats; I work full-time in a environment full of people and telephones and and music, day and night. The public transport is similar to warehouses packed full of suffocating chickens, and on buses there's always someone imposing their own repulsive musical tastes (normally hip-hop and R&B) on everyone else via their mobile phones on loud speakers. At home, the TV is constantly switched on, normally plugged in on the dvd player and the x-box, and when it's not, then the iTunes is playing something on one of the 6 Macs currently in the house. Outside, there's the traffic, the people talking, the background music literally everywhere you go... you get the picture.

Right now, while writing this post, two different songs are playing in the background: amy winehouse in the main background, and a dodgy r&b tune from 3 years ago on the cloackroom man's laptop speakers.

I've tried to train myself to switch off and concentrate on my readings and writings while the world shoots and bangs around my ears, but after 4 years, I don't think I've improved much. I remember working in magazine and newspaper offices and nearly crying from not being able to write good pieces because the constant noise was so distracting. It might have been one of the reasons why I gave up the journalistic career so easily: because I wouldn't be able to work competently amidst everyday chaos. I am one of those people that NEEDS to be in close touch with the inner workings of their own minds, so I can be fully satisfied with whatever comes out of it. Not many people need or even understand this urgent need for alone/silent time, so I've always had a hard time trying to make the people in my own circle comprehend my demands. For the man in my life to understand that I wanted to be left alone sometimes, it took a few years. With friends, it was me who had to learn to cherish time with them without worrying if I would eventually get time for myself as well. Sometimes, I would simply ignore phone calls, messages, invitations, or simply withdraw mentally from a social gathering when physically I still had to be there (like seating in the sofa with the paper when there's 20 people talking around you. Horrible, I know). As a result, obviously, I 've been branded anti-social, intolerant, unadaptable, whatever is associated with people who have a weakness for isolation.

Remember that book I've been trying to write? It hasn't gone much far, and I blame the permanently disturbing noise that is part of daily life in London.

And in the end, I don't think I'm asking too much. I know that if I get 2 hours on my own every other day, I'll be the happiest and most sociable bunny in the world - because ater isolation, I need to interact with other people in order to dish out whatever my mind has decided to work on.


Maybe I should just start waking up at 5 am.