See it, live it, write it

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See it, live it, write it

Yesterday we went into Paris (we live about 30 mins south on the RER train) to get the right kind of particular photo from the right particular photo shop so that the kids can apply for Dutch passports. (The Dutch, particular? Never.)

I’m a New Zealander. Luuk is Dutch in terms of nationality but has lived in NZ since he was very young. He qualifies for dual citizenship but when he found out how much it cost he bought himself a new computer monitor instead.

Louis, being born in NZ, qualifies for dual citizenship. He has a NZ passport but as we’re in Europe life would be easier (and involve less beaurocracy) if he had European identification.

Elena, being born in France, doesn’t meet the particular Dutch requirements for dual citizenship. She can be Dutch, or a New Zealander, not both. She only qualifies for French if she’s living here when she’s eighteen. Life, for now, is easier if she’s European.

And so I’m going to be the only pure Kiwi, the only non-Dutchy, in the house. Eek.

In an odd twist, the kids, being parented by a Dutchy, are automatically Dutch, unless they take another citizenship and yield their Dutch citizenship. Meanwhile, they’re not automatically NZers, though their mum is, but they can easily become NZers.

Argh. Complicated. But, now that the decisions are made, I’m moving on. They’ll be Dutch. I’m not too fussed about it. Official nationality and patriotic feeling needn’t line up as far as I’m concerned, but I know others would disagree.

Being a bit patriotic: eating NZ fruit, all the way over here in France.
(not very environmentally friendly though…)

Perhaps if I was technically not a NZer I would want to become one because of sentiment, but I doubt it. Luuk feels like a NZer, but technically isn’t one. Perhaps Elena will too.

As my nationality has never been in conflict, I am, no doubt, ill-qualified to join the conversation.

And yet here we are. So I’ll move onto subjects I can comment on with less conflict.

There are a lot of train trips, lots of underground stations to traverse and people to watch on your average day in Paris. I’ve never been able to put my finger on exactly what it is that I love about being in a big city.

Luuk would much rather having forests and fields in our backyard. I like forests and fields but I’d rather visit them on occasion than be a long way away from people and cafes and galleries all the time.

Yesterday, while we were on our way through yet another Paris Metro station, I think I figured out at least part of the reason why I love big cities. We saw a couple fighting (verbally, not fisticuffs) in a stairway, there were musicians on the trains, and in the stations (some of them incredibly talented!), and then there’s the sheer variety of people – I’m judging entirely on appearances but I’m bound to right in the general sense, and inevitably wrong in half of my assumptions about any given individual (based on their flamboyant wig/transparent shirt/shiny pants…)

Big cities, by virtue of their population alone, can support independent artists – musicians, painters, and street performers abound. And then there’s the not-so-independent arts: concerts, plays, musicals, operas, ballets, exhibitions…

There’s the art itself, and then there’s the people the art draws: from all corners of the world, all corners of society…

All the life and colour and noise! I see characters everywhere, inspiration for so many stories, ideas everywhere! Love it.

A bit of crazy: a ride at Jardin d’Acclimitation
(we visited this park yesterday while the photo shop was closed for lunch)

If I’m honest, it’s inspiring but also exhausting, and I’m happy being close to, not really in, Paris. Different people need different circumstances/environments in which to create.

Most artists probably need some space – a quiet, still, empty place, on occasion.

Most artists probably need some of the crazy too.

The ratio is variable. I guess, part of being an artist is figuring out how much crazy, and how much quiet, you need to be productive and healthy. This changes, I’m guessing, throughout any life. There’s a time, a season, for everything, as the Byrds, and the bible, say.

I’m noticing a trend in my current season.

With two kids under two, a routine by the clock is just a pipe-dream. I would say that both kids are in a routine of sorts, but it’s very flexible and more like a sequence of events than a schedule. Every day, without fail, we bend or break the pattern, at some point.

I have a plan. Some days it goes well, but most days it doesn’t go perfectly, and there are plenty of days when it doesn’t go at all.

I’m noticing, however, that if I get a few words down first thing, even just a couple of sentences of my novel, then I get my head in the game. I find my thoughts wandering back there, and if I’m intentional it’s easy to think about it all day. I am keen as ever to get back to the computer and write some more. Given the opportunity I’m there in a moment, and within minutes I’m writing; I’m away!

Four days in a row now. The few minutes, half an hour tops, first thing when the kids go down for that morning nap, before they’re even asleep sometimes… that’s the key, it seems, to my making as much progress as possible in a given day.

Today’s reward for writing session number two:
a big fat slice of the lemon yogurt cake Louis and I baked earlier in the week.
(I’m running out of those stars…)

It could be a while before thing settle down and I can do anything except snatch time to write. But I’ll keep at it nonetheless. If I don’t I’ll regret and resent, I’ll see characters and stories and ideas, all around me, and feel guilty for doing nothing with them. It’s no way to live.

Je suis un écrivain, je suppose.
(I am a writer, I suppose.)