Author: Monna McDiarmid

My blogs: http://monnamcdiarmid.com/

Looking for Naoko Nishizawa

Leaning girl

For the past six weeks, I’ve been writing the first draft of a novel set in Tokyo. Two teenage girls discover the journal of a woman named Naoko Nishizawa and decide to track her down so they can return the journal to her. It’s more than a decision. It’s a mission. In the meantime, however, they read every delicious word of her journal. The 38 Impossible Loves of Naoko Nishizawa.

A few weeks ago, I asked my friends on Facebook where Naoko should live. I was looking for a lovely Tokyo neighbourhood with a park nearby. A place with restaurants and cafes. A neigbourhood a young artist would choose.

“Hiro-o!” wrote my friend James.

And so it is. Hiro-o. Which sounds, of course, like the English word hero and that makes me happy. It is also the Tokyo neighbourhood I know best and visit the most often. Last weekend I went to Hiro-o for lunch and took some photographs.

I keep looking for Naoko Nishizawa.

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Ordinary Lovely

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{Rue Cler, Paris}

For me
there is nothing
lovelier
than regular people
living their lives.

This ordinary loveliness
is my favourite thing
to photograph.

Lately, I’ve noticed
more
anger
and toxic squabbling
on my Facebook feed.
Mean, disheartening comments
appear below the posts
of friends.

I help people
with their problems
for a living
so I know
the world is
sometimes
hard.

But I wonder
if we don’t
also
make it harder
by dwelling
in darkness.

I don’t know.
I don’t have the solutions.

For me,
for now,
I’m going to keep posting
ordinary loveliness
and talking to students
one
lovely
kid
at a time.
 
 

Into the Instagram Wild

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In Paris
our days were our own.

We walked the city.

My new walking shoes
made me feel
like a superhero.

Neighbourhood
by neighbourhood,
we made the city ours.
The 6th and the Latin Quarter.
The Tuileries Garden.
A walk from Rue Cler in the 7th
all the way to Notre Dame.

We stopped often
to eat,
drink
and
take photos
and came home
with our iPhones
filled with
memories.

We released the photos,
perfect little worlds,
six
or seven
at a time,
released them
into the Instragram wild.

Apparently that’s not how it’s done
I’m told by people
half my age.
I need to be more strategic.
Release them
one at a time.
You know,
in order to get
the most
likes.

But the loveliest thing
about not being cool
is
not
being cool.

Fewer rules
and
more {Instagram} joy.

 

Keeping it for good

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Seventh generation Canadian,
I am descended from Scottish and Irish folks.
Hearty, thrifty people
saving up for a rainy day

We grew up with a set of dishes
we used every day,
some chipped
some yellowed with age
and a set of good china that sat
like some secret
in the china cabinet.
We were “keeping it for good”,
for company,
for special occasions,
the holy trinity of McDiarmid family dinners:
Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving.

My upbringing failed me
or perhaps I failed it.
Choosing not to marry
meant no shower gifts,
no registries.
I am the kind of woman
who buys what she needs.

And I don’t believe in keeping
one damned thing
for good.
Ring the bell. Go ahead.
Use the good dishes for dinner every night.
Buy flowers for yourself.
Wear that dress.
Take your family to Disneyland.

What are you waiting for?

What the neighbours think
is truly
none of your business.

And also
about writing,
do not save it up.
Don’t hoard those sparkling phrases
in moleskins
stashed in boxes
hidden beneath your bed.

Spend those words.
Throw them down like rice at a wedding.

Revel. Rebel. Spend your joy.

 

A Decadent Paris Walk in the 6th Arrondissement

Today I’m going to take you on a guided tour of a walk I have done four times over my last two visits to Paris.

The 6th Arrondissement is saturated with tiny shops filled with gorgeous gifts, linens, dishes, jewellery, clothes and gastronomical wonders.

By metro: Arrive at either the Marbillon or San Germain de Pres metro stop.

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1. l’Eglise de San Germain de Pres (Saint Germain Church)
Start at this beautiful old church completed in the year 558.
Address: Place St-Germain-des-Pres, 75006 Paris, France

 

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2. Jules Pansu
Follow the street that runs by San Germain for another half block until you see Jules Pansu on your left. This store stocks wonderful pillows, tapestries and bags. It’s difficult to resist the charms of their animal cushions and my favourite is that of a cow wearing a fedora.
Address: 42 rue du Faubourg Poissonnière, 75010, Paris
Telephone: +33 (0)142 467 245
Website here

 

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3. Laduree and the Laduree Tea Room
Continue to the end of this block. You will see a mint green coloured building ahead of you. There is a store where you buy macarons and tea (the rose tea is our favourite) as well as a tea room where you can have a meal (I like the tiny, perfect sliders) or just tea with sweet things. I highly recommend the salted caramel macaron. Please note that macarons are only really tasty for 24 hours so they do not make ideal gifts for those at home.
Address: 21 Rue Bonaparte, 75006 Paris, France
Telephone:+33 1 44 07 64 87
Website here

 

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4. Tiany Chambard
As you step out of the exit from the tea room (not the shop), Tiany Chambard will be the very next shop on the same side of the street. This shop sells whimsical vintage jewellery and my favourites have been two wonderful lucite brooches ~ a cat and a dog.
Address: 32 Rue Jacob, 75006 Paris, France
Telephone:+33 1 43 29 73 15
Facebook page here

 

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5. Fiaencerie Gien
Address: 13, Rue Jacob, 75006, Paris
Founded in 1821 (by an Englishman), this company sells beautiful ceramic dishes made in Gien, France, a small town on the banks of the Loire River.
Telephone: +33 (0)1 46 33 46 72
Website here
Email: jacob@gien.com

 

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6. Henri le Roux
You’ll have to walk a little farther to get to the last stop on our walk. Continue up Rue Jacob for a couple of blocks and turn right. Walk two more blocks and turn left. Walk two more blocks and volia, you will see the shop on your right.
In this photograph, you will see paper fans in the window and these fans may remind you of Japan. In 2006 Henri le Roux sold his chocolate company to Japanese cookie company, Yoku Moku. My favourites at Henri le Roux are the SBCs (salted butter caramels) but the chocolates are also heavenly.
Access: 1 Rue de Bourbon le Chateau, Paris, France
Telephone: Phone: +33 (0)1 82 28 49 80
Website here
 
Enjoy all the delights that this walk has to offer. À bientôt.