Dear Friends,

On August 16th, Nothing Profound posted on his blog The Daily Aphorism ( that “the only way to improve the world is by loving it.” I’ve decided to live by Nothing Profound’s aphorism and prance around Paris loving everything and everyone who crosses my path. Of course you’ve noticed that when you smile at someone, almost always a smile is returned; so when you love someone, love should be returned. My mission this week is to elicit smiles, and capture the beauty of all that is Paris… most especial of all, its people.

*Carly— My second roommate, a Pennsylvanian, who fell in love with Paris’s gardens, pastries and charm. When she left, she gifted me a copy of Adam Gopnik’s Paris to the Moon, in which he writes, “Paris was the site of the most beautiful commonplace civilization there ever has been: cafes, brasseries, parks, lemons on trays, dappled light on bourgeois boulevards, departments stores with skylights, and windows like doors everywhere you look.” Thank you Carly, for a book that reads like poetry.

*Gerard— What does it take to be special? To have a pure heart? To love the world? Gerard adopted his son at three months old; that infant is now a happy, smiling man who picks his father up from work at the post office. Gerard extended his heart, his hand and his home to a child in need. In between the loving and the child-rearing, he danced on Broadway with Georgia Smith, performed cabaeret in Berlin, and jazzed all around France. It was a pleasure to meet him

* Quick Folks— My friend Tony wanted a Quick burger, and after standing in line I wanted nothing more than a photo of this young woman who served with a genuine smile. When’s the last time you’ve gotten friendly service at a fast-food restaurant?

* Hair Guy— Oh, I was warned about haircare for black women in Europe, so in preparation I carried a tub of Mizani relaxer. Then, lo and behold, I saw this guy as I walked down rue de Belleville. He had every single product for black hair imaginable including the whole line of Motions, meaning I didn’t need to lug an extra eight pounds to France.

*Samy— On the subject of hair, all hail Samy the hair god at Pyrenees Coiffure. He wears a suit to work everyday, used to work at EuroDisney, and has over 700 books in his personal library. The man is great on many levels, but best of all is what he can do with a flatiron. (New York ladies, he charges Dominican blowout prices!)

* Watch Women— These lovely ladies spend their time at Joiallerie Landauer on rue du Temple. There is a vintage watch in their shop that I almost sold a kidney to acquire, and if you want to buy my love (now at discount prices), call them and tell them Val sent you. They’ll know what to do.

* Samil— This 21 year old kid made my day with his “lyrics.”He really tried, and since I didn’t know the French for “you’re too young for me,” our conversation went on for longer than it should’ve. I must say that he put some pep in my step and a smile on my face.

* Kam— After Samil left, Kam, exactly twice his age, took his place on the bench. Ladies, pull your hair in a bun, throw on some jeans, and take yourself to a park bench for a little attention. It’s a veritable dating field of dreams. If you sit there, they will come.

* Nothing to say, he’s just for viewing pleasure.

*Jerome— Jerome’s a poet who moonlights as a bartender at Culture Rapide on rue de Belleville. He performs slam poetry and will
be on stage tomorrow night at Culture Rapide. My only issue with Jerome is that he thinks that New York is as cool as Paris. Impossible.

* Anne and Gwennael— Anne and Gwennael hail from Bretagne, but now live in Paris. They’re such a cute, loving couple that their aura was like a magnet. We engaged in conversation and at the end of the night, we parted ways with two Gaelic phrases: 1) Da Gousket- Good night and 2)Kenavo- Goodbye. FYI, in Gaelic, Gwennael means “White Angel.”

* Alex— Alex spoke perfect English, and was very interesting, but I didn’t hear everything because he has such a great smile. I remember that he said that his mother is Indian… but did he or did he not visit Canada? Is it just me or does someone’s attractiveness distract you from their conversation?

* Diego— Diego, like many Europeans, speaks a number of languages. His number’s now at five, with a smattering of Portuguese thrown in. He’s fascinating, having lived in a number of countries, and having had a number of affairs. He falls in love very easily, and when I asked Diego where he lived, he replied “I just want to live in your heart.”

* Sign on the bathroom wall.

We are love, thus we want to give and receive love. Where better to learn that “love is the message” than the city that’s dedicated to all things love?

Bises xx,


p.s Hm. I just realized that the second half of this post seemed like dating profiles, which wasn’t at all my intention. When I speak of love here, I don’t mean romantic love, and there’s certainly no “loving” happening between me and anyone in this post.