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Montmartre is the same, but it’s harder to climb the stairs with a mask. I stop to catch my breath.

The whole city is holding its breath since yesterday.

What will they make us do tonight? What will end, shut down? What will be salvaged?

The owner of a fabric shop in the Marché St. Pierre is surprisingly optimistic: “Maybe it will only be a weekend quarantine.” I thought we were well past that. But like her, for a moment, I nod and hold my breath.

The once tourist-choked streets aren’t as crowded now. Some families leisurely stroll and enjoy…


Some surprising lessons from three old friends.

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A few months ago, I posted about a book-induced existential crisis I was experiencing. After having read a few of my favorite book blogger, Sally Allen’s, recent posts, as well as having turned to a page of a delightful free downloadable fill-in journal by artist Adam J. Kurtz that asked me (well, whoever is filling in the journal) the title of ten favorite books, I was at a loss.

I know my favorite book — that would be A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett. For me, that book was literally love at…


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Reading a book is supposed to transport you. But can reading about reading books do the same? I would have said yes before, but now I’m proof: Three book-related things I’ve read recently have made me embark on a journey.

It all started back in December, when my favorite book blogger Sally Allen posted about a holiday read-a-thon she was participating in. The read-a-thon asked participants a few book-related questions, which Sally posted. And while I loved reading her answers, the post left me feeling uneasy because I couldn’t answer most of them, myself.

Like Sally, I’m a bibliophile. Reading…


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“I’ve got some bad news. Your mother’s being held hostage.”

Hearing something like that, most people might gasp or react in an alarmed manner. But knowing my mother like I did, I wasn’t overly surprised.

I hadn’t talked to my parents in weeks, because of the snails, mostly.

Whenever my life gets too stressful, I cook. I’ve made some pretty challenging dishes in my time, and a few weeks ago (or maybe it was months by now) I decided it would be interesting to try to make escargot.

I started by gathering snails. With all the forests around here, and…


What’s true in an unreal time?

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Last week, my five-year-old son discovered the question mark.

He’d seen it before, mixed in among the colorful letters, numbers, and assorted pieces of punctuation in the set of magnets we’d bought him years ago. But on this particular day, he decided to spell out his name and then finish with a decorative flourish, this charming curve with a dot at the bottom that seems almost silly, like an afterthought.

When he proudly showed me his work, I laughed and told him how that single symbol made the fact of his name questionable. He…


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Several years ago, on the now defunct, forever beloved blogging platform Open Salon, I wrote a post called “The Hardest Thing I’ve Ever Had to Do.” The hardest thing in question? Waiting on line for nearly twelve hours in order to get the documentation I needed to be able to stay in France. By the end of it, I had black and blues around my knees, troubling memories of other people who’d waited as long or longer but weren’t as lucky, and a new hardness to me.

Recently, I was thinking about this post. The funny thing is, I realize…


(For Ali)

Every year we watched the first autumn snowfall together. I remember you so vividly, your black fur and ears silhouetted against the gray window as you stared in surprise at the falling white flakes.

As surprised as I always am, year after year, lost in this inexplicable beauty.

These are the ways we come together when we don’t have speech, saying “Wow, look at that!”

The falling snow is still beautiful to watch. I hope it will always feel like you’re sitting beside me, watching it, too.

Before, this was a shared moment beyond speech. Now it’s a shared moment out of time, beyond the divide of life and death.


Family, dirty jokes, train whistles, and the other side of the bed.

My aunt always says her house isn’t perfect. Early on, I would have agreed. It was hard not to compare the decades-old, dark place full of perpetual clutter with our airy, modern McMansion.

Time went on, and unhappiness and age took its toll on the McMansion. I grew up loving it and clinging to it, but at the same time, I realized later, feeling as though to step foot outside it would be like what the ghosts in “Beetlejuice” experience. …


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The revolver on display at Paris’s Drouot auction house, Saturday June 15, 2019

Whether you’re a fan of Vincent Van Gogh’s art or not, you probably know some of the stories.

The cut-off ear (actually only partially cut off), his suicide in a wheatfield echoed, along with his inner, turbulent despair, in one of his last paintings, “Wheatfield with Crows”.


I thought it would be different.

I didn’t feel you anywhere, or feel like crying. I didn’t feel I should stop to remember or think much about you, and that made me feel strange.

My brother and I talked about our kids, our everyday worries, our plans. I kept wanting to acknowledge the day — we both know what day it is. Along with our sister, we’ve all felt so much leading up to it. But he wasn’t crying, and I didn’t want to make him cry.

I thought that you would be happy hearing us, laughter and brilliant plans…

Alysa Salzberg

is a writer & worrier. She lives in Paris with an eccentric Frenchman, a clever toddler, & a charming cat. Besides them, she loves books, travel, & cookies.

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