Friday, January 31, 2014

Book Babblings

We'll Always Have Paris by Jennifer Coburn 

The Nitty Gritty: Jennifer Coburn is a woman feeling the icy breath of the Grim Reaper down her back. The death of her father at the age of 19 introduced her to death far earlier than she would have liked. Though with his weed addiction and smoking habits I cannot fathom why she was not prepared for his passing.

Her fear of death prompted her to abandon real life, her husband (only for the summers spent traveling), snag her passport and daughter and trek through Europe like a star-eyed teenager seeking to truly find themselves, before she does the dance with the devil. 

This is the story of a perfectly healthy woman hellbent on learning to let go of her fear of dying, by learning to live. 

Opening Line:““Jail?!” my husband William shouted through the telephone.””

The Good: Any reason to get back to Europe and I’m on board. I grew up in the ancient ruins of Germany. Bavaria was my playground and I throughly enjoyed every minute of it. So much so that I am embarking on a masters program in the United Kingdom simply to reunite with Europe. 
Jennifer recalls that she has “never heard anyone talk about Paris without sighing,” the city of lights invokes a deep seeded love affair with all who grace her quaint streets and sidewalk cafes. I do love it when Americans embark on seeing more of the world. We are one of the few first world country where its citizens cannot recall all the state capitals let alone all the countries that make up Europe. The geographical education of our students is severally lacking and I for one think a healthy dose of traveling would do wonders to cure that.  

This book is a wonderful, little travelogue for those neophyte travelers who want a bit of hand holding as they experience their first overly aggressive TSA grope.  

The Bad: I myself, like many others, have sat down and written out a bucket list. After all I am only 33 and I feel that I have more than enough time to get all the things done that I want to before I die in a bed surrounded by my loving family, my collection of books and a life sized cutout of the 10th Doctor. 
So I understand the appeal of just getting up one day, saying ‘The hell with being a responsible adult’, snagging my passport and running off to find myself. Then reality sets in. I have bills to pay, responsibilities that don’t wait for me to find myself. Turning 18 is not just a mark of the passage of time. Its the closure of the childhood door. The time in every person’s life when they have to put on the mantle of adulthood and all the trappings that come with it. Though I have the responsibilities of an adult I do enjoy frequent flights of fancy into immature and childish things such as Spongebob Squarepants and Dylan’s Candy Bar. 

For me this book was the trip you fall into when you take bad acid. It just wasn’t realistic. This was a child’s petulant tantrum at having to experience real life. Instead of dealing with her problems she sets out on a series of avoidance trips that she undertakes under the guise of giving her daughter precious mother-daughter memories for her mental photo album. 

The opening gambit has our intrepid traveler calling home to alert her husband to her detention by the French police for jumping the fence to a locked playground. Her excuse for this crime? She didn’t understand the local culture. I am pretty sure that a locked door in the United States means do not enter the same as it does in France.

I found this anecdote neither amusing nor enduring. I have been detained in a foreign country and merely annoying my jailer did not result in a I Love Lucy bit, nor a laughing matter to be shared at a dinner party of my closets friends.   

We’ll Always Have Paris, is the musing of a woman that needed to take advantage of the excellent healthcare she seemed to have had with all of her unnecessary doctor visits, to go see a mental health profession for her death obsession and her Munchausen Syndrome. Oh she masked it well with her witty quips and beautifully applied anecdotes, but I believe that Mrs. Coburn would have benefitted greatly from seeking the counsel of a trained professional.  

This memoir just didn’t resonate with me. When I think of memories of my mother, who is very much alive and kicking anything in sight, that I’ve squirreled away in my mental scrap book, the everyday life lessons and smiles far outweigh those spectacular Supermom moments. I can recall the scent of her favorite perfume which is no longer made more readily than I can our harrowing elevator ride into the salt mines of Hitler’s Eagle Nest in the mountains of Germany. I can rattle off her favorite episodes of Murder, She Wrote easier than reciting her favorite Germany haunts on the streets of Stuttgart.

I concede that possibly I’m not her target audience as I grew up in Europe, and walking along the Rhine River were an every day occurrence for me and thus are not part of my bucket list, but I like to think that I should still be treated to a terrific story nonetheless. 

Final Thoughts: Jennifer Coburn, much like Michael Bay, thought a lot of explosions and splashes help people to remember your story. Contrary to popular belief, that just makes it harder to see as you stumble blindly down memory lane. I will always remember Paris, but after this book it might not be with such fond memories.