Your Eyes Get Bigger Than Your Brain! Interview with Megan Valentine

It’s evening in the Studio of Shakespeare and Company and I am sitting on the big green chair. Its predecessor, my favourite, I am reliably informed now resides on the 5th floor, a sort of Shakespeare and Company Narnia. Perhaps I will interview someone there some day. As Santi prepares himself some dinner, I’m drinking wine with a cohort of shop associates assembled under the guise of lending moral support to my latest interviewee, ex-tumbleweed and volunteer Megan Valentine. You can write your own bit about love being in the air, I wouldn’t stoop to such puns. Oh, it appears I would. Anyway, so far we aren’t that drunk because Megan’s famous absorbent lips have not turned wine coloured, but all this might change as Our Tumbleweed Correspondent asks the questions you want to know the answers to…

 

Drinking with Megs is like taking a canary down a coal mine. You know you've had too much to drink when her lips turn red. And she falls over and dies.

Drinking with Megs is like taking a canary down a coal mine. You know you’ve had too much to drink when her lips turn red. And she falls over and dies.

Flora:

Ce quoi en Francais?

Santi:

Chaise.

Flora:

No! OK, he’s actually writing the things that I’m saying.

Neringa:

That’s unlucky, that’s really unlucky…

Thos:

Hello, how’re you doing…

(There follows a confused section in the dialogue when Santi says something I need to hear repeated)

Megan:

He said ‘I apologise for my underpants.’

(They are hanging in the window)

Neringa:

No, he says ‘forgive my underpants!’

Megan:

Forgive my underpants!

Neringa:

And we forgave!

(Flora starts laughing)

Flora:

It’s like-

Neringa:

It’s like God’s work!

Flora:

Ca marché!

Megan:

The omnipotent Tom!

Flora:

The omnipoTom! He’s definitely going to write that. Can we talk about blowjobs in this one ’cause I think we missed out on that one?

(laughter, more disjointed chat)

Flora:

…more testicles than bowjobs are good for me.

 

What drew you to Shakespeare and Company?

Megan:

(laughs)

Santi:

You have the answer already.

Megan:

Testicles and blowjobs! Nono! Harriet was at my school and she was a volunteer and when I came to Paris she said ‘why not volunteer at Shakespeare and Company?’ and so I stayed and I’m here-

Flora:

And she met me!

Neringa:

And life went better!

Megan:

And life went better as Neringa says.

 

What is your favourite thing about tumblweeding?

 

Megan:

Everybody says this so I’m just repeating what everybody says

Flora:

Boring boring boring!

Megan:

Books and people!

Flora:

(to me)

Can you communicate how she said it?

Neringa:

Really intensely.

(didn’t have to communicate, it was in the dialogue. Interviewing’s such a skive…)

Megan:

It’s really cool meeting people and you automatically have something in common. Makes me really regret not playing music much because I’m with tumbleweeds and we’re like: we’re going to jam.

Neringa:

I wonder what he’s typing out of all of that – it’s like a stream of words!

 

What is your least favourite thing about tumbleweeding?

 

Megan:

It’s kind of a-

Flora:

CENSORED SECTION

Megan:

(laughs)

You get book greed, you realise how many books you’re never going to read in your lifetime and your eyes get bigger than your brain. You know you’re eyes get bigger than your belly? Someone will describe this book and say you must read it and you know you never will because you’re in the middle of something else.

 

This is the point in the interview where I traditionally like to invite you to send Terry Craven a poem in his foetid corner. It can be a favourite of yours, or a poem you have written, whatever you like.

 

Megan:

I will not subject Terry to a poem written by myself.

Flora:

About Flora!

Megan:

 

The Hunchback in the Park

 

The hunchback in the park
A solitary mister
Propped between trees and water
From the opening of the garden lock
That lets the trees and water enter
Until the Sunday sombre bell at dark

Eating bread from a newspaper
Drinking water from the chained cup
That the children filled with gravel
In the fountain basin where I sailed my ship
Slept at night in a dog kennel
But nobody chained him up.

Like the park birds he came early
Like the water he sat down
And Mister they called Hey Mister
The truant boys from the town
Running when he had heard them clearly
On out of sound

Past lake and rockery
Laughing when he shook his paper
Hunchbacked in mockery
Through the loud zoo of the willow groves
Dodging the park keeper
With his stick that picked up leaves.

And the old dog sleeper
Alone between nurses and swans
While the boys among willows
Made the tigers jump out of their eyes
To roar on the rockery stones
And the groves were blue with sailors

Made all day until bell time
A woman figure without fault
Straight as a young elm
Straight and tall from his crooked bones
That she might stand in the night
After the locks and chains

All night in the unmade park
After the railings and shrubberies
The birds the grass the trees the lake
And the wild boys innocent as strawberries
Had followed the hunchback
To his kennel in the dark.

 

-Dylan Thomas

 

Name your three favourite songs:

 

Megan:

Oh fuck.

Flora:

We’ve discussed this already

Megan:

It’s really hard!

 

 

http://youtu.be/bc4RmUW608Q

 

http://youtu.be/9zdNdjF-htY

 

http://youtu.be/MfvcPeWO8yk

 

Anything else?

 

Megan:

Anything else? Well, Tom. Oh, I dunno…

Flora:

Is that all the questions?

Megan:

I think you’ve missed a crucial one.

 

What have I missed?

 

Santi:

The interviewer’s drunk!

 

(In a flash, dear readers, I remembered the cruel and divisive question I had forgotten to ask!)

 

Who is your favourite member of staff and why?

 

Megan:

Well, I was actually genuinely and before I read Santi going to say that Sarah was one of my favourite and you just-

Santi:

Everyone says Sarah now!

Megan:

So I like her ’cause she’s really cool… and Milly, and Karolina because I was a volunteer first…

Santi:

That’s three

Megan:

But he’s contractually obliged to write everything I say.

Flora:

(sarcastically)

Yeah, he has a contract…

 

(Low blow, dear reader, low blow…)

Tumbleballs: Interview With Santiago Lemoine

Once again I am sitting in the studio. Since I’ve been away somebody has replaced my favourite chair with the big green one. I am furious. If any of you know where my chair has gone, email:

ourtumbleweedcorrespondent@gmail.com

There are a variety of new tumbleweeds, all male, and the conversation tends towards the phallocentric. I’m here to interview Santiago Lemoine, Argentinian tumbleweed of a full three days standing. He’s just explained that when he was a child he thought you had to leave a testical inside a woman in order to procreate. As always Our Tumbleweed Correspondent asks the questions you want (or might not want) to know the answers to…

Santi enjoys repeatedly exposing himself.

Santi enjoys repeatedly exposing himself.

Hamish:

So do you think the ball dropped off and it grew into a human?

Santi:

Something like that…

Hamish:

So if you’re “balls in” for peeing you’re also “balls in” for sex?

Peter:

I dunno, I’ve never had sex. Nothing like chocolate in the morning, classic breakfast of the French-

Hamish:

Or America. AMERICA!

Peter:

It’s why we call it the land of the free: eating chocolate and drinking contact lens fluid!

Santi:

Early one morning the sun was shining I was lying in bed…

Hamish:

Is this the interview? Fucking hell, what have we just been saying?

Peter:

Exactly. Make sure you put in the bit about Hamish’s mum and her birth control methods-

Hamish:

I will not have her foul mouthed on the tumble diary. Said Peter “Hamish is such a nice guy I wish I was him”, Said Hamish “thanks”, Said Santi “Hamish, were you sleeping with a duvet last night or have you just got an enormouse dick?”

What drew you to Shakespeare and Company?

Santi:

Uh…

(makes coffee)

I’d been to the place before and I liked it. Aaaaand… I love bookshops. Working in bookshops.

Peter:

You used to work in a bookshop

Santi:

Yeah, and so its like – how do you call it the thing about Islamic people the Mosque? They’re all praying in one direction – its like the Mecca of bookshops. I’ve been travelling and visiting bookshops, trying to visit bookshops in every place so as I was visiting Paris I have to come here.

What is your favourite thing about tumbleeeding?

Santi:

(stirs coffee in mug)

Peter:

Besides devising was of having Hamish die prematurely…

Santi:

Talking about Hamish’s mum.

Peter:

Skypeing her every night

Santi:

No, just being around people who… don’t have the same interests, but have similar interests.

Hamish:

Being around complicated artists-

Peter:

Got a soft spot for geniuses

What is your least favourite thing about tumbleweeding?

Santi:

I don’t have one yet.

That’s very diplomatic of you, but you’ve got to answer something.

Santi:

Yeah. Uh, The thing about sucking dicks? No!

Hamish:

The blowjob initiation

Peter:

The nightly sexploitation

Santi:

No just waking up… but it’s fine it’s not that bad.

Who is your favourite member of staff and why?

I don’t even know all of them.

Still gotta pick one

Santi:

…so, I will pick Sarah because I like the place where she works…

Peter:

One vote for Sarah, I think that’s a first.

Hamish:

But she’s so beautiful!

Peter:

She might be the perfect woman

Santi:

She has short hair, she’s perfect

(Karolina comes in and speaks in Polish with Peter)

Karolina:

Haha! I trick you now, Tom, this is not going to happen!

(speaks rapidly in Polish. She could speak slowly, I’d still have no idea…)

Karolina:

Normally what he does is type everything everybody says which puts me in a very stupid position and he’s typing everything right now. Tom – remember that I am your best friend in Paris and if you want to maintain our relationship I’m not sure if I like this cheeky smile on your face!

(In the meantime the guys have been discussing goulash. They proclaim it is the same as syrup.)

This is the part of the interview known as Craven’s Corner where we invite you to send a poem to Terry Craven in his imaginary corner, or even write one yourself. What do you want to do?

Santi:

(looks out of window)

The only poem I know… …I don’t know it, you have to look for it in the internet.

Self Portrait at 28

I know it’s a bad title
but I’m giving it to myself as a gift
on a day nearly canceled by sunlight
when the entire hill is approaching
the ideal of Virginia
brochured with goldenrod and loblolly
and I think “at least I have not woken up
with a bloody knife in my hand”
by then having absently wandered
one hundred yards from the house
while still seated in this chair
with my eyes closed.

It is a certain hill
the one I imagine when I hear the word “hill”
and if the apocalypse turns out
to be a world-wide nervous breakdown
if our five billion minds collapse at once
well I’d call that a surprise ending
and this hill would still be beautiful
a place I wouldn’t mind dying
alone or with you.

I am trying to get at something
and I want to talk very plainly to you
so that we are both comforted by the honesty.
You see there is a window by my desk
I stare out when I am stuck
though the outdoors has rarely inspired me to write
and I don’t know why I keep staring at it.

My childhood hasn’t made good material either
mostly being a mulch of white minutes
with a few stand out moments,
popping tar bubbles on the driveway in the summer
a certain amount of pride at school
everytime they called it “our sun”
and playing football when the only play
was “go out long” are what stand out now.

If squeezed for more information
I can remember old clock radios
with flipping metal numbers
and an entree called Surf and Turf.

As a way of getting in touch with my origins
every night I set the alarm clock
for the time I was born so that waking up
becomes a historical reenactment and the first thing I do
is take a reading of the day and try to flow with it like
when you’re riding a mechanical bull and you strain to learn
the pattern quickly so you don’t inadverantly resist it.

II two

I can’t remember being born
and no one else can remember it either
even the doctor who I met years later
at a cocktail party.
It’s one of the little disappointments
that makes you think about getting away
going to Holly Springs or Coral Gables
and taking a room on the square
with a landlady whose hands are scored
by disinfectant, telling the people you meet
that you are from Alaska, and listen
to what they have to say about Alaska
until you have learned much more about Alaska
than you ever will about Holly Springs or Coral Gables.

Sometimes I am buying a newspaper
in a strange city and think
“I am about to learn what it’s like to live here.”
Oftentimes there is a news item
about the complaints of homeowners
who live beside the airport
and I realize that I read an article
on this subject nearly once a year
and always receive the same image.

I am in bed late at night
in my house near the airport
listening to the jets fly overhead
a strange wife sleeping beside me.
In my mind, the bedroom is an amalgamation
of various cold medicine commercial sets
(there is always a box of tissue on the nightstand).

I know these recurring news articles are clues,
flaws in the design though I haven’t figured out
how to string them together yet,
but I’ve begun to notice that the same people
are dying over and over again,
for instance Minnie Pearl
who died this year
for the fourth time in four years.

III three

Today is the first day of Lent
and once again I’m not really sure what it is.
How many more years will I let pass
before I take the trouble to ask someone?

It reminds of this morning
when you were getting ready for work.
I was sitting by the space heater
numbly watching you dress
and when you asked why I never wear a robe
I had so many good reasons
I didn’t know where to begin.

If you were cool in high school
you didn’t ask too many questions.
You could tell who’d been to last night’s
big metal concert by the new t-shirts in the hallway.
You didn’t have to ask
and that’s what cool was:
the ability to deduct
to know without asking.
And the pressure to simulate coolness
means not asking when you don’t know,
which is why kids grow ever more stupid.

A yearbook’s endpages, filled with promises
to stay in touch, stand as proof of the uselessness
of a teenager’s promise. Not like I’m dying
for a letter from the class stoner
ten years on but…

Do you remember the way the girls
would call out “love you!”
conveniently leaving out the “I”
as if they didn’t want to commit
to their own declarations.

I agree that the “I” is a pretty heavy concept
and hope you won’t get uncomfortable
if I should go into some deeper stuff here.

IV four

There are things I’ve given up on
like recording funny answering machine messages.
It’s part of growing older
and the human race as a group
has matured along the same lines.
It seems our comedy dates the quickest.
If you laugh out loud at Shakespeare’s jokes
I hope you won’t be insulted
if I say you’re trying too hard.
Even sketches from the original Saturday Night Live
seem slow-witted and obvious now.

It’s just that our advances are irrepressible.
Nowadays little kids can’t even set up lemonade stands.
It makes people too self-conscious about the past,
though try explaining that to a kid.

I’m not saying it should be this way.

All this new technology
will eventually give us new feelings
that will never completely displace the old ones
leaving everyone feeling quite nervous
and split in two.

We will travel to Mars
even as folks on Earth
are still ripping open potato chip
bags with their teeth.

Why? I don’t have the time or intelligence
to make all the connections
like my friend Gordon
(this is a true story)
who grew up in Braintree Massachusetts
and had never pictured a brain snagged in a tree
until I brought it up.
He’d never broken the name down to its parts.
By then it was too late.
He had moved to Coral Gables.

V five

The hill out my window is still looking beautiful
suffused in a kind of gold national park light
and it seems to say,
I’m sorry the world could not possibly
use another poem about Orpheus
but I’m available if you’re not working
on a self-portrait or anything.

I’m watching my dog have nightmares,
twitching and whining on the office floor
and I try to imagine what beast
has cornered him in the meadow
where his dreams are set.

I’m just letting the day be what it is:
a place for a large number of things
to gather and interact —
not even a place but an occasion
a reality for real things.

Friends warned me not to get too psychedelic
or religious with this piece:
“They won’t accept it if it’s too psychedelic
or religious,” but these are valid topics
and I’m the one with the dog twitching on the floor
possibly dreaming of me
that part of me that would beat a dog
for no good reason
no reason that a dog could see.

I am trying to get at something so simple
that I have to talk plainly
so the words don’t disfigure it
and if it turns out that what I say is untrue
then at least let it be harmless
like a leaky boat in the reeds
that is bothering no one.

VI six

I can’t trust the accuracy of my own memories,
many of them having blended with sentimental
telephone and margarine commercials
plainly ruined by Madison Avenue
though no one seems to call the advertising world
“Madison Avenue” anymore. Have they moved?
Let’s get an update on this.

But first I have some business to take care of.

I walked out to the hill behind our house
which looks positively Alaskan today
and it would be easier to explain this
if I had a picture to show you
but I was with our young dog
and he was running through the tall grass
like running through the tall grass
is all of life together
until a bird calls or he finds a beer can
and that thing fills all the space in his head.

You see,
his mind can only hold one thought at a time
and when he finally hears me call his name
he looks up and cocks his head
and for a single moment
my voice is everything:

Self-portrait at 28.

                                                     -David Berman

Name your three favourite songs:

http://youtu.be/o9gK2fOq4MY

http://youtu.be/UVwamE7t_YQ

 

http://youtu.be/YwSZvHqf9qM

Anything else?

Yeah, I’ve been here for three days.

Peter:

Three best days of your life

Santi:

Yeah, put that.

What’s Happening? It! (apparently)

I am slightly inebriated on the third floor of Shakespeare and Company. Tumbles, volunteers and staff mingle around with filled glasses having just consumed some dindins. It is Lauren (and I later discovered Stav’s) last night at the shop, but one thing remains to be done. As always, Our Tumbleweed Correspondent asks the questions you want to know the answers to…

 

Eye see what you mean

Eye see what you mean

Lauren:

I have to take a picture of this so I have one, thank you. Are you doing this now? Are you doing his now? You’re doing this now!

 

Stav:

Is this?

 

Lauren:

Yes it is!

 

Ryan:

…his wife wrote something about it…

 

Charlotte:

…I’m red like a piglet, like a piglet ok? Red like my dress…

 

Lauren:

Is it good?

 

Charlotte:

Oh its a portrait!

 

Lauren:

Uhm…

 

(drinks wine)

 

What drew you to Shakespeare and Company?

First time I came to Shakespeare and Company was 2008 and I was one of those super-impressionable 16 yo girls who thought she was going to hate Paris and then loved it and was the typical touristy person we all hate, and I came back to study here in 2013 and I was a volunteer and then I tumbleweeded here.

 

Have you found your phone?

(to the room after Charlotte looses her phone)

Charlot can’t go now there is no goodbye!

 

What is your favourite thing about tumbleeeding?

Its really difficult actually Tom I don’t know.

 

Ryan:

(intake of breath)

It’s happening!

 

Lauren:

It’s happeninig!

 

(she grins radiently)

 

Ryan:

I get on with Kitty. Kitty and I have spent a night together.

 

Lauren:

I have not done that.

 

Ryan:

You’ve got to tonight.

 

Lauren:

But can I take him downstairs? That’s the problem…

 

Ryan:

I had to do a transcription recently and I should have asked Tom about it.

 

(ironicaly at this point the interview is paused due to rapid chat)

 

Lauren:

I just love living in the shop and this cat – who you hate – that I love. Pictures of me and Kitty have increased dramatically since I’ve started tumbleweeding. Look at that!

 

It’s happening! I guess my favourite thing about tumbleweeding is sleeping in the poetry section and it’s really quiet and and a little nook and after sharing a room with two girls all semester its good to have my own space. Who would think being as tumbleeweed would be better than living in an apartment?

 

 

What is your least favourite thing about tumbleweeding?

 

I’m going to have to quote ryan and say it is not being able to plan my day the night before because I like to have a schedule. But other than that that’s it because I love it!

 

Who is your favourite member of staff and why?

Fuck…

 

That’s really hard because… uhu… raises eyebrows

 

Ok, so, this might come out oddly but it used to be Milly because Milly is a total babe and she was totally inclusive to me from the beginning and it was great and she became more of a friend to me and I didn’t see her as an authority figure, so I guess Milly and Terry. Edit that if it sounds awful please. No but actually tom, I don’t want Milly to think I don’t respect her authority. Are you listening to me? Yeah? Good!

 

(hits my leg)

 

Name your three favourite songs:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iWOyfLBYtuU

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vPJuFxl0bxY

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KvyOqKhKWQ4

 

Anything else?

Hmmm…

uhm… these past four to three months have been wonderful mostly due to everyone I’ve met through Shakespeare and Companyu and I can’t really believe it is over and that I’m leaving tomorrow. It’s been really great.

 

Tumbly New Year!

My dearest tumblereads, it is with pleasure that I wish you all a belated Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! In 2014 Our Tumbleweed Correspondent will continue to ask the questions you want to know the answers to, but first lets reflect on the tumblestory so far.

We’ve had over 25 interviews with tumbleweeds, shop staff, volunteers and even shop dog, Colett. Musicians, philosophers, writers, editors, directors and drinkers (many of these) have given us answers ranging from heart-warming to hilarious, fascinating to bizarre, beautiful to pretty fucking disgusting. I’d like to thank every single one of them for taking the time to answer the questions, and to those who for whatever reason were not interviewed, fear not! For not only shall OTC continue, but I have it on good authority there is soon to be a new and more official tumbleblog with tumblestories from around the world. Keep watching this space for further news…

 

COMMING SOON: INTERVIEW WITH LAUREN SARAZEN

 

 

Murder Ballads – Interview with Davy Lyons

You'll see what he looks like in the video.

You’ll see what he looks like in the video.

I’m sitting in the writer’s studio with tumbleweed and resident musician Davy Lyons. His rangy form bustles at the sink, and when finally he sits down Davy gazes into the corners of the room with whimsical introspection. This interview could be replaced by a collection of Davy’s excellent musicianship, and if you want to hear what he sounds like follow this link:

http://vimeo.com/76357021

To our friends at Belleville Park Pages. But for an interview, my tumblereads, you must content yourselves with Our Tumbleweed Correspondent, as ever, asking the questions you want to know the answers to.

(Peter plays guitar – jamming good with the Spiders from Mars)

Davy:

Do you want tea?

I’d love some tea

Peter:

Oh, it’s a beautiful day!

What drew you to Shakespeare and Company?

Erm, I got to know two ex-tumbleweeds, Will and James of Belleville park pages fame and they told me about staying at the book store. When I needed a place to stay I came and spent another three weeks knocking on the door to get in. Jeez, you do type quick.

What is your favourite thing about tumbleeeding?

(Intake of breath)

The people.

Two things, the people and the books. Spending times with the tumbleweeds, hearing Peter play guitar for me…

Peter:

Yeah!

Davy:

And having the opportunity to read…

Peter:

Don’t forge the busking!

Davy:

Ah, that’s a new addition…

Megan:

I haven’t heard it yet

Davy:

Having a daily wage from busking.

Tell us about your music.

Music?

Erm – I play guitar and sing. Dreary ballads of who –

Peter:

Murder ballads!

Davy:

Murder ballads, yeah, like Nic Cave.

Perter:

Nothing like a good old murder ballad. They’ve lost a bit of steam in modern culture but I think they might be coming back.

Davy:

Do you think?

Peter:

Oh yeah!

What is your least favourite thing about tumbleweeding?

(Looks into distance stroking top of head)

Davy:

The lack of personal space. It gets a bit clostrtophobic especially if you’ve been here for, well I’ve been here for 7 weeks now, but its not a major complaint.

Who is your favourite member of staff and why?

Ehm… Like everyone says Karolina

Megan:

She’s the best!

Davy:

Yeah, for her ferocious heart!

Name your three favourite songs:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xDB87o-njFQ

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7iC5L79J9dc

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9aRKZFR5imM

Anything else?

Do you want that cup of tea?

Oh yes.

Karolina – How Does She Do It? Interview with Christa and Olga

These guys are totes amazeballs... ok, I know, I shouldn't try to do popular culture...

These guys are totes amazeballs… ok, I know, I shouldn’t try to do popular culture…

I’m sitting in the studio of Shakespeare and Company with Christa Minkin and Olga Torrico. Both of these excellent tumbleweeds are leaving today, one to Vienna, the other to Rome. Christa hugs a mug of tea whilst sitting on a chair, as Olga moves around the room packing up her possessions. They might have done their shifts and written their biographies, but there is one more thing left for these tumbleweeds to go through, and as always your humble servant the tumblepress is here mooching free tea and typing down everything they say. Our Tumbleweed Correspondent asks the questions you want to know the answers to.

(Christa blows noes)

Christa:

Did you write your biography yesterday? No, you didn’t finish it?

Olga:

What did you say?

Christa:

Your biography?

Olga:

I don’t really remember what I did, so let me see… this was my bio actually.

Christa:

Oh…

Olga:

This is my bio.

(They look at a sheet of paper)

Christa:

This is how to draw Christa, not your biography!

Olga:

(reading out loud)

I would like to write a new bio. I would like to say many things. I will now show you how to draw Christa, my favourite tumbleweed… that’s my bio I think

(they look through Olga’s sketch book)

Christa:

What is this, the vegetable?

Olga:

This is Rob’s.

Christa:

I love that!

What drew you to Shakespeare and Company?

Christa:

Do I… have to think about it… Ahem. Olga

(points at Olga)

 

(Olga laughs)

Olga:

We need to say Charlie is having a shower in the background

Christa:

(in a whisper)

If we speak really quietly he will not here us…

(back to normal volume)

ahem

It was definitely Olga as she was a tumbleweed and I was here before and she was a volunteer and I would hang out all the time and I became a volunteer and now tumbleweed.

Olga:

Do you want some tea?

I’d love some

Let’s make it…

I was just I had just arrived in Paris and it was like one week that I was in Paris and ehm I was walking and I was feeling actually, I was feeling really sad and I was reading here. I remember I was reading Tropic of Cancer and I sat there and the bookshop was closed and that made me feel even more depressed and I thought what the hell? I came here and its closed! I came here by chance and I remembered a friend had told me about it and the day after I came by again by chance and the shop was opened and I was really really amazed by everything and I remember I saw the piano and that really impressed me that everyone was playing and that gave me a sense of family. And I went home and there was this huge picnic at Les Invalides with the students and I was sad and I wrote this big email full of cheesy things and all the day long I had been thinking about this place and the day after I received an answer and started volunteering and that’s it.

What is your favourite thing about tumbleweeding?

Christa:

Being interviewed by Tom.

We can stop there

-but also, I think the main thing I love is being surrounded by books all the time. It’s a cheesy answer as everybody loves this I believe. But of course Olga again, I am referring in all my answers to Olga. And sleeping next to the piano in the piano room. It makes me feel like in a castle of books which is really cool.

(Enter Karolina)

Karolina:

I’m sorry guys I have to interrupt. This is out new volunteer, Jenny…

(At this point we pause the interview for some introductions.)

Karolina:

This is so pretty, Olga, this skirt.

Olga:

It’s stupid Ryan Air…

(she has to wear it over her jeans to get round the hand luggage restrictions.)

"Right before I fell." - Geddit?

“Right before I fell.” – Geddit?

So Olga, your favourite thing about tumbleweeding:

Olga:

Uhmmmmm… uhm. uh. Ehmmm… Uhmmm, well. So many things, I’m gonna like everything about it, that’s true. It’s tumbleweeding that is my favourite thing. I think I would like to do this for a job for ever and I don’t really care about anything. I don’t know – I really think it’s one of the best experiences I’ve ever done. I think the main thing to me is really the people, again another cheesy answer, but it’s true! It is amazing to feel so close in such a short time to people. I love tumbleweeding with this girl here,

(she gestures to Christa)

but in the summer I was tumbleweeding with people I got to know, it was so much fun and to be together with all the staff and – everyone is so gentle and so interesting, and its beautiful that everyone has their own personality, their characteristics, and you feel part of a family.

I love so many things, I love Colette, I love Kitty, it’s this concentrating of characteristics and WHAT AM I SAYING? This is our dog and this is our cat and this is a nice thing. And what I love about tumbleweeding is you feel so free, this is what I love so much, the first time I was tumbleweeding I felt like an animal, and things that are usually important such as eating and sleeping become less important and living becomes more important and running to the pub and – don’t write all these things! Even if you say something he writes things down, so annoying, he doesn’t even look at you when he writes it’s so rude!

Christa:

I am constantly amazed at how cool people are: the tumbleweeds, volunteers. I just meant cool in the normal sense… except Tom: he’s really cool.

Olga:

He’s like Marlon Brando

Christa:

He’s cooler than Marlon Brando

Olga:

You should wear the hat behind you.

Christa:

Oh, I just thought of something else I love about tumbleweeding. I want to say that I love that when I’m here I feel like reading books, but also books in English, which is kind of cool because my English was not as good before I came here and now I don’t want to read in German ever again – I just want to read in English… except books by German authors of course, and I love that I’m able to do it now, it’s so cool.

What is your least favourite thing about tumbleweeding?

Christa:

That’s difficult… hmhm. Give me a moment.

(enter Davy with a massive yellow jug)

Olga:

What is that?

Davy:

It’s for breakfast

Olga:

Oh my god it looks like Pinocchio

Christa:

I know what my least favourite thing is, because you’re here and you’re so happy and everything is really amazing and then you have to leave. The worst thing is that at some point everything comes to an end

Davy:

(singing)

We’ll meet again…

(continues humming at the sink)

So, same question to Olga:

Olga:

(Looks up to the corner of the room)

(pulls face)

(pinches lip)

(grins)

(pokes chin)

(looks to the other corner)

I cant think, I just think about things I like. I like avocado, these morons in Italy, they don’t have avocado: you have to order them and here I eat a lot of avocado…

Like she said, going away is really bad, it’s really hard, everything is so boring. Because, yeah, so getting used to the daily stupid life its kind of boring and terrible. And I think that I don’t like that the tumbleweed locker smells so much, I don’t know whose socks…

Christa:

I think they’re someone’s shoes not socks…

Olga:

There’s a little population of creatures on the floor –

Christa:

Little smelly creatures

Olga:

And if you put the light on it’s still like a black hole and there’s an Italian poem written on the toilet, how do you say…

Cistern?

– no, I didn’t want to say that. That thing the Italian poem is on is kind of riscatta which is kind of what the hell guys, pay back the fact that there is such a smell. Like compensate.

 

Who is your favourite member of staff and why?

Christa:

(folds arms and rocks on chair)

Hmmm. I think everybody says that but it’s definitely Karolina because she is the most amazing person I ever met in my life and I think she is so amazing that I think when she’s talking to me I think why is she talking to me?​ I don’t deserve it! Why is she talking to normal people like me? Like… morons? She’s really amazing: I don’t know how she does it.

Olga:

I mean, this is like, the best voted but definitely Karolina. When she comes in in the morning there’s light, when she’s here you’re just out of bed and I do opening in my pyjamas and I look like I’m from a horror movie or drunk even when I’m not, and just going down and then she comes and its like light something I don’t know really how she does it, she’s like so simple but full of things, she’s rich but in a simple way, she’s shiny – there’s something bright about her in a way, she cares about us I think she really does and we meet so many people going by – volunteers staff customers, and its nice when there is someone who stays. When we’re apart we write to each other and its nice she want to come and see us in Rome and Vienna and you find someone it’s going to stay in a way and she’s so brilliant and blond. You’re blond too.

Christa:

She’s not blond.

Olga:

Compared to me she is!

Christa:

Compared to you everyone is. Is it darker than mine?

 

(they compare hair)

Olga:

Yes.

Christa

She’s just amazing

Olga:

And you have this flash, I remember when she broke her feet and we took her to the hospital and we went to the hospital with chocolates and she was smiling all the time and it was fun, like she was having fun even when the foot was hurting so much. I like when she does the therapy and she talks and we listen and she is saying so many beautiful things, telling us about here life – it’s so nice. I think it’s terrible to be interviewed, I feel so much pressure,

(They whisper and switch to French, aware that I am not going to be anywhere near good enough to write it all down. The gist of what they said was “if we speak French he wont be able to write it down” and then something or other after that. I think it was a compliment.)

OK, so two favourite songs each?

Christa:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BcL—4xQYA

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qrdpliMfoAM

Olga:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u37RF5xKNq8

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l86CKCllUiU

Anything for Craven’s Corner?

Olga:

We should have really composed something.

For once I'm going to let the photo do the talking.

For once I’m going to let the photo do the talking.

Christa:

I’ve never talked about poetry with Terry so I have no idea what could impress him. But I really like – there’s this Austrian poet, there was cause he died, and he would write these creepy crazy poems about the war and other things. I don’t know how its called a genre of poetry, I don’t know how it’s called in English. The interesting thing was not to read it but to listen to him . There is for example a poem called Schtzgrbn and there are no vowels. Ehm, and the way he is when he’s like reading it or performing it actually the poem its like your listening to the horrible noises of the war and its like really crazy but amazing. The guy is called Ernst Jandel.

Olga:

Uhm, well. I mean, do I have to say a poem I like or a poem I would like to tell him? Don’t write that please, I’m wondering! What the hell? Tom you’re terrible, really, well, if… like, that the first poem that comes to me is, like, and I think probably Terry already knows it and it’s maybe useless but it’s a French Baudelaire poem an I love it, its called le Serpent Qui Danse

http://fleursdumal.org/poem/125

and its beautiful as its about movement and its so wavy like and its like walking while waving which is really amazing, the way he says everything is so full of a rhythm that is like t t t t t, it is like so cool.

Anything else?

Christa:

Ehm, yes.

(laughs)

I like to add that you are really serious when you are doing the interview which is quite funny as normally you are not serious at all. And I am really grateful to Shakespeare and Company for the opportunity to be here and I am just so happy that I met so many amazing people and that they wont forget me and will wait for me to come back so we can be amazing together again.

Olga:

That my favourite thing about tumbleweeding…

Christa:

Again

Olga:

is,

uhm.,.,. Yeahm I mean really this is the thing I would like to say: thanks. Just that. Because it is so so nice that they trust people. Like I could have been a serial killer

Christa:

You definitely look like a serial killer.

Olga:

So it’s  beautiful that they trust you and I feel as though I care about this its like my children, you have this sense of protection towards it, I mean I really care. I want to do something to keep it good and make it feel good, it’s like an alive place it breaths it moves it’s like pulsating, and waking up here in the morning you feel like you are in the belly of a big whale, this building is great. Merci, thanks, grazi

Christa:

I want to say something about I want my hat back – it is amazing, I want it to come into the interview. Amazing book. Don’t ask us any more questions.

 

And so I didn’t.

However Olga sent me a message on facebook with advice for interviewing tumbleweeds in future:

1) never interview a tumbleweed when he/she didnt have coffee yet (especially if he/she is Italian and he just had a bland english breakfast tea)

2) never interview a tubleweed if he is leaving in thirty minutes, because he will be too sad about that to be enough lucid or witty or in him/herself to answer properly.

3) never interview a tumbleweed and then scare him by saying that it is later that it really is and he/she is about to lose his plane. one day the poor tumble will fall under a stroke ( cause you see in a way he/she hopes to lose the plane indeed.)

I think the worst thing about tumbleweeding is you can’t marry everyone.

One of the most significant literary figures of the last 200 years. And Virginia Woolf.

One of the most significant literary figures of the last 200 years. And Virginia Woolf.

I am sitting in the front room of the library with tumbleweed Sarah Eddy. It’s Ryan’s last day at the shop and later we’ll have pastries, but while we wait for them to arrive Sarah lies ankles crossed on the comfy sofa, mug held in both hands throwing occasional wry smiles and answering too quickly. Fingers aching as I try to keep up, Our Tumbleweed Correspondent asks the questions you want to know the answer to.

Sarah:
I always decide to make tea at nine forty and then we have to open at nine forty-five and I think its the stupidest thing I do every day, because it’s cold.

(laughs, and stretches out)

What’s going on over there? Your silence is unnerving… this is going to be an interesting interview because we’ve already talked about how you make me nervous… he says nothing and just types.

(Makes a sound like a fighter pilot. Previous to the beginning of the interview Sarah tells me she’d been out drinking with Rob who became so inebriated he impersonated an aeroplane for fifteen straight minutes.)

What drew you to Shakespeare and Company?
Uhm, two summers ago my best girl Sarah Morris you weren’t here two summers ago no she did an internship thing and stayed here and told me about it and —

(At this point the interview breaks down due to Sarah’s rapid rate of response. Above left deliberately under-punctuated.)

What did you just say?

Ok, my friend Sarah Morris interned here two summers ago and told me about it.

And the thing about the book?

It’s really good, you have to read it, it’s called The Mixed Up Files, it’s about these two kids who run away and live in a museum and when she told me about it I said that’s exactly what it sounds like – I’m going to live in a museum: excellent read, you have to do it first thing.

Tell us about getting lost in Spain.

(laughs)

Uhuh, you DID read my blog… archives. Well, I lost my guidebook the second week in Spain which I thought was going to be fine because I think I have this intuitive sense of direction which I don’t have so on the day it was really really early in the morning and I set off by myself and I thought I was going to find this 9th century monastery and I looked bellow and saw a haystack which I thought was the monastery so I hiked towards it for two hours then found it was a haystack and then I hiked through a field to the Camino which was the walk I did. When I arrived in the town it turned out everyone knew I was lost and gave me big hugs and were like “oh my god I’m glad you’re not lost!” It happened multiple times, but that’s the time I remember most.

(Find out more here: http://scedwards.tumblr.com/post/59767268754/ancient-haystacks)

What is your favourite thing about tumbleeeding?
I like…

(enter Ryan)

hey Ryan!

(Ryan says nothing, he stares at your humble servant, the tumblepress, a manic glint in his eye.)

…little nervous…

…I like that every day someone comes in to the shop that has some history to it and your talking to people who are on some sort of literary pilgrimage and its so important to them. That sounds so cheesy. I think I’ve never lived in a place with so much of a history to it and you never know with all the people coming in what their history with it is, it’s very sweet.

Ryan:
Sarah’s a Romantic

Sarah:
As she lounges… this coffee’s really bad, I always think its going to be good but it isn’t.
I already screwed this day up

Ryan:
Ruining my last day

What is your least favourite thing about tumbleweeding?

Sarah:
Ryan.

(Ryan laughs)

Sarah:
…uhm… pfffff….. I’m thinking.

Ryan:
She’s thinking about how much she hates me, it’s just this visceral hatred she can’t overcome.

Sarah:
I’m struggling to speak clearly because of it. I think, well, I’ve been here four weeks which is a fairly long time, it’s forming these short term relationships –

Ryan:
Aw come on they’re not short term!

Sarah:
I think the worst thing about tumbleweeding is you can’t marry everyone.

Ryan:
I think that’s the title of the interview right there…

Sarah:
Oh, the silence…

This is the part of the interview where we ask if you have a poetic morsel to send Terry in Craven’s Corner.

Compose a poem for Terry Craven? I haven’t had enough coffee for that this morning. What did everyone else do? Rob composed a poem didn’t he? Damn Rob.

…uhm, the one, this is a cop out, this is a lame one, the one I’m trying to memorise right now is called Just Walking Around by John Ashbury.

I’m not gonna say it..

I have google.

Just Walking Around

What name do I have for you?
Certainly there is not name for you
In the sense that the stars have names
That somehow fit them. Just walking around,

An object of curiosity to some,
But you are too preoccupied
By the secret smudge in the back of your soul
To say much and wander around,

Smiling to yourself and others.
It gets to be kind of lonely
But at the same time off-putting.
Counterproductive, as you realize once again

That the longest way is the most efficient way,
The one that looped among islands, and
You always seemed to be traveling in a circle.
And now that the end is near

The segments of the trip swing open like an orange.
There is light in there and mystery and food.
Come see it.
Come not for me but it.
But if I am still there, grant that we may see each other.

– John Ashbery

Who is your favourite member of staff and why?

(Smiles, laughs)

Uhm, this is a terrible question, uh… I read Rob’s interview and I know he already stole my Colette answer but I really loved Colette. They left Colette here for a week and she slept on my bed and I was really sad when she left. Well, pause pause, well, can I say what I like about all of them? Well, like, Milly and Charlotte were the first ones to welcome me in and I’ll always like them for that. I think I have a special bond with Octavia because we like hummus and talk about it every day, well… this is redundant, but we spent the most time with Karolina and she’s just the best… person.

Name your three favourite songs:
I thought about this this morning and they all have the word “wild” in them which is an accident

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0KaWSOlASWc

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k_0U3DlLFSU

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S2rOh6dCwao

My house mate and I used to watch his every morning for like a month. It’s so beautiful, Stevie Nicks is like the best woman after Karolina. I’m not actually very wild I just like these songs.

Anything else?
Oh I think I just lucked out with the group of tumbleweeds. I think every group is nice but they were very sweet to get to know. I think Rob’s hilarious, Ryan’s my therapist and I like cooking with Davy.

Ryan:
Can you guys finish so we can have coffee and pastries?

Sarah:
There are pastries? Ryan brings pastries?

Ryan:
Karolina brought them.

Sarah:
Karolina bought pastries – that’s why she’s the best!

Ryan:
Seriously, Tom, you should just get a tape recorder.

Sarah:
I have a crush on Karolina – you can say that I have a crush on everyone.