How to Recognize the Artist (according to the Internet)

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I know better than to take these as gospel, but they’re surprisingly accurate if not a little stereotypical. I laughed a lot harder than I should have at the van Eyck and Rembrandt ones. Other funny ones of note: Dappled light but no figures, it’s Monet. Dappled light and happy party-time people, it’s Renoir. Dappled light and unhappy party-time people, then it’s Manet. Anyone else –ahem, Lauren– reminded of the line from Ocean’s 11: “I always confuse Monet and Manet. Which one married his mistress?” “Monet.” “And Manet had syphilis.” “They also painted occasionally.” Oh, the things you find on the internet!

April 23, 2014 / art / photo / LEAVE A COMMENT / 7

Stuck on Words

Do you ever get stuck on a specific word? For a while, in conversation, everything was “fantastic.” The word lodged itself in my brain and became the descriptor for all manner of things when talking to people: “Oh, that restaurant was fantastic.” “The colors are just fantastic.” “That nap I took was fantastic.” Then, a few months ago while writing, I noticed lots of things were “curled”: his lip, their legs around each other, a thin wisp of cigarette smoke. And right now, the words “oily” and “ineluctable” have been bouncing around my head, begging for release. His motives are oily, another character makes an ineluctable judgment. Should I be worried? Is it totally normal and some creative divine intervention that sends these words to me to fixate on until I can find a suitable spot for them in the story? Or is it just my brain’s laziness in using the same word for everything (really, is everything fantastic?)? Is this too deep for a Monday?

It reminds me of a line from “Dead Poet’s Society.” Have you seen it?

So avoid using the word ‘very’ because it’s lazy. A man is not very tired, he is exhausted. Don’t use very sad, use morose. Language was invented for one reason, boys – to woo women – and, in that endeavor, laziness will not do.

April 21, 2014 / read / watch / LEAVE A COMMENT / 20

Loving Lately, vol. 3

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Greeting Cards / Tee / Scarf / Mascara / Book / Album / Sandals

Just a round up of things I’ve had my eye on lately. Four out of the seven are French-related. Five, if you count the sandals I’m packing for the trip. And Stromae is technically Belgian, but he sings in French, so it counts. Mon dieu, am I really so predictable?

Have a good weekend, kiddos.

April 18, 2014 / fashion / vanity / read / watch / LEAVE A COMMENT / 22

Something Special

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I originally hadn’t scheduled a post for today, but in making my morning internet rounds I came across this beautiful home tour with designer Danielle van Camp and was too smitten not to share. She moved to Paris because it’s where “magic and fashion combine into something special.” Replace ‘fashion’ with ‘art’ or ‘creativity’ and you’ve got my reasons for moving there. Van Camp freelances for brands such as Acne and Missoni, and publications like Vogue France and Numero. She lives in a 6th floor (sans ascenseur) studio in Le Marais, and while the apartment is tiny, it’s everything I’d need: a table for writing, fresh flowers, a view to die for, and happens to be located on the street where one of my book characters lives (“lives”). Van Camp says, “the space itself has beautiful light, which is the most important thing to me when looking for somewhere to live…[And] you see the Eiffel Tower sparkling at night time.” What else could you possibly need?

Two weeks from today.

April 16, 2014 / home design / Paris / travel / LEAVE A COMMENT / 16

Splurge vs. Steal

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Ragini striped silk dress by Malene Birger $545 / Collarless Stripe Shirtdress by Loft $75 (with an extra 40% off!)

In honor of Tax Day (did you file on time? I got my refund in February! Of the many reasons to love Jamal, chief among them is that the man can do my taxes) I thought it would be fun to feature these two stripe-y, pretty similar dresses. One is over $500, the other is $75 – $45 after a 40% discount Loft is offering. Depending on the size of your refund check, you could have both! But let’s be realistic, the $45 version is just as nice, if not nicer.

PS. More Splurge vs. Steals here and here.

April 15, 2014 / fashion / vanity / LEAVE A COMMENT / 25

White Room

So you may have noticed things look a little different around here! It was time for a change, a new layout, one that would allow me to have larger photos in preparation for Paris (oh yes, there will be photos). I also didn’t realize how much I missed having a sidebar. I’m by no means a coder/web developer, so the process was fraught with stumbling blocks and lots of trial & error, but I think I was able to pull it off in the end. A big thank you to Christine and my mom for being my test guinea pigs and giving me immensely valuable feedback and tweaks before it went live, and to Gloria, for helping me with a particularly tricky bit of CSS madness! If anything looks or acts weird, let me know! I’d love all of your feedback, too.

My blog wasn’t the only thing to receive a face lift; my white room got a bit of a redesign this weekend, too. Here’s what it looked like before (and more recently here). The painting is my dad’s, of the Smith Civil War Memorial in Fairmount Park. It’s gorgeous, and I love being able to look at it when I’m writing and feeling stuck or uninspired. The tiny watercolor is his, too. Other details: empty Diptyque jar (took me a year and a half to burn all the way through it) now used as a pencil cup, Ladurée box, Eiffel Tower, and some favorite books. This room is my favorite in the house; you’d never believe it’s half below ground with as much light as it gets.

A fresh start all around for spring.

April 14, 2014 / home design / LEAVE A COMMENT / 32

Friday Five

I know there’s an old rule in writing that you’re never supposed to lead with the weather, but can we talk about how glorious the weather has been this week? Mid 60s, blue skies, just the right amount of wind. Spring has certainly, finally, sprung, and while it’s supposed to rain all day today, my mood is irreversibly buoyed by having been able to wear ballet flats to work this week without catching frostbite, thus displaying my blindingly pale cankles for the first time in months. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still winter’s biggest champion, but it’s hard not to love spring weather.

Herewith, my top five things this week:

1. The answer Gary Oldman gave to the question, “What is your guilty pleasure?” 

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And the beautiful soul who made it into a gif (his face!).

2. The new blog layout I’ve been working on:

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But you’ll have to wait until Monday to see it! Such a tease, I know. It will be worth the wait.

3. This well-timed, eerily accurate fortune cookie fortune:

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I had dinner with my brother, sister-in-law, and nieces over the weekend, and I opened my fortune cookie to this little gem. I generally don’t give much weight to fortunes, and I wouldn’t necessarily consider going to Paris to write a novel “exotic,” but this one was too perfect not to share.

4. This wonderfully weird Google Earth screencap:

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YOU RAN HIM OVER. This was taken in Parc Monceau, just like this bizarre one, convincing me whoever was in charge of the camera that day must have been high.

5. The new “No Work After 6pm” rule French unions just enacted:

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Not only do the French enjoy a 35 hour work week, 6+ weeks of paid vacation per year, and, you know, life in France in general, French unions this week “signed a new, legally binding labour agreement that will require staff to switch off their phones after 6pm.” No work emails, no work texts, no work after 6pm. The unions believe there should be as little intrusion to the private lives of workers as possible, which means that “companies must ensure that their employees come under no pressure” to work after you leave the office. Considering I live with someone that takes work calls at 11 at night and 7 in the morning, this is a rule I’d love to adopt here. (Thanks to my friend Audrey for sending me this story!)

What are you up to this weekend, kiddos? I will be packing, and I’m so excited about it. I already did a test run a few months ago, true story, to make sure I could bring everything, cross-referencing the piles of folded clothes with one of the 345694262413 lists I’ve made. This time I’m making it official by bringing out the suitcases. 19 days!

April 11, 2014 / Friday Five / Gary Oldman / life / dog / Paris / travel / LEAVE A COMMENT / 20

A Stunning Apartment in Paris

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Every so often, I stumble on an apartment in Paris so gorgeous, so out of this world, so unbelievable that I’m stunned into an awed silence. “People actually live like that? In real life?” Sometimes it’s the design of the apartment –a glossy interior of beautiful arranged, high-end furniture– but other times, it’s the main tenet of the real estate industry that really sells a place: location, location, location. And this apartment, a mere stone’s throw from the Eiffel Tower, not only has a location (and view!) to die for, the inside is pretty luxe and spectacular as well. How do you say, “embarrassment of riches” en Français?

From the glimpse of the Iron Lady out of every window, to the original herringbone floors, intricate crown moldings, marble fireplaces, to even the trompe l’œil bookshelf wallpaper in the small study, this apartment might be the most amazing home I’ve ever seen. Three bedrooms, each with an ensuite bathroom (I wish we could have seen the bathrooms!), and a maid’s room. Not only can people live like this –and do– but their maids even get to live like this. Though something tells me the maid’s room probably doesn’t have the same view.

Price: €2.85m / $3.9m

April 10, 2014 / Paris / travel / LEAVE A COMMENT / 14

I’ve Got Places to Go

No, seriously. I have been keeping a list of “Places to Go” for when I get to Paris (in 22 days! but who’s counting…me. I’m counting.). A natural consequence of (or perhaps the cause for) spending so much time in Google Earth, wandering around Paris, is that I’ve accumulated a long, long list of sun-drenched corners and hidden courtyards and unassuming spots that provide stunning vistas of the Eiffel Tower that I just have to see, and photograph, in person. I want to maximize my time there, and because my anxiety cannot be harnessed, I figured keeping a list of addresses and street names was the best approach to ensuring I don’t miss anything. Sure, I know as well as anyone that the best sites are the ones you stumble upon accidentally on an aimless stroll, and it’s not the destination but the journey, etc. etc. but come on. Try to look at any of these Google Earth screencaps and tell me I’m crazy for writing down their exact coordinates:

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That’s what I thought.

PS. Did I mention there are only TWENTY TWO DAYS left?

April 8, 2014 / Paris / travel / LEAVE A COMMENT / 36

I’m Moving to Paris!

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You read that right, though maybe I’m overstating the “move” aspect, as it implies permanency. I will be spending two months (eight weeks! 61 days!) in Paris! PARIS! I leave April 30th (hence the countdown!) and fly home June 30th. I’ve been bursting at the seams wanting to tell you guys, the excitement has been just overwhelming. I might have slipped and told a few of you last year, but who knows if you believed me because when am I not threatening to move to Paris? This time it’s real. This is not a drill.

I’m sure you have a ton of questions, so let me see if I can head them off:

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April 4, 2014 / life / dog / Paris / travel / LEAVE A COMMENT / 51