Found Painting

There is a house a few doors down from us that I am in love with. It’s one of the few remaining original (read: old) row homes on the street that hasn’t been torn down and replaced with a boxy, cookie-cutter, new-construction monstrosity. It has a glass pane front door, old doorknobs, a tiled foyer, and from what I’ve been able to see from stealing glances (read: peepin’ and a’creepin’) original fireplaces and a gorgeous flight of stairs with a carved banister. It finally went on the market a few months ago, for a staggering $500k, and my heart sank: there’s no way we could afford it. The house needs a lot of work; the windowsills are rotted, there’s no central air, the light fixture next to the front door has been hanging at a precarious 45 degree angle for a few months. But it has charm. And, judging from the curb-fulls of stuff that keep appearing every weekend as the landlord paints or cleans it up, it also has a treasure trove of junk. That it’s sat on the market even for this long without being snatched up by some greedy developer set on destroying all of the original character speaks volumes to what the house must look like inside, buried under stuff.

The frat boys that have lived there for the last however-many years have had to start emptying the home of their things, and there have been sofas, and giant tube tvs, and old dusty tables missing legs, and black trash bags full of clothes. And one day, strewn on yet another laminate dining table next to a Donald Trump book from the 90s, there was even this:

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My Paris-sense went off the moment I opened our door to take Fitz out for a walk one afternoon. And as I approached that house and prepared to start Frogger-ing my way through the detritus that had exploded in yet another wave from the basement, I spotted this painting. It was undoubtedly Montmartre, with the domes of Sacré-Cœur in the background, and one of the many notorious street artists that line the little hilly streets of the neighborhood. In that moment I understood what the first discoverers of the Titanic must have felt.

Fitz, nowhere near the Francophile I am, of course kept pulling to the nearest tree to do his business, and I had to follow. We disappeared around a corner for less than two minutes, and the whole time I was sweating profusely, convinced someone else would come along and grab the painting before I got back. I cleaned up after Fitz and all but sprinted back to the trash pile where the painting sat, all but glowing and calling my name. Jamal actually high fived me when I burst in the door to show off my prize. WHAT ARE THE ODDS that just three doors away was a painting of my favorite neighborhood in Paris just waiting to be rescued? I may not be able to buy that house and restore it to all its former glory, but I’ll always have a piece of it.

I Forgot My Phone

Christine linked to this last Friday but I thought it was so important it bore repeating here. I’ve recently been feeling overconnected again, and I don’t like the squirmy feeling it gives me to not even realize I’ve been glued to my phone and look up and see Fitz next to me, just staring at me, asking for attention. He gives me these looks like, “Oh. That thing again. Guess you can’t pet me.” Maybe I’m anthropomorphizing, but when your dog gives you guilty stares because your laptop is on and your tv is on and you’re still scrolling through your phone instead of rubbing his belly, maybe it’s time to cut back on technology.

I grew up without a cell phone, and when I finally did get one in high school, no one had text messaging. We didn’t have Facebook or Myspace or even Youtube, forget Instagram and Pinterest. We hung out in person, not Google+ hangouts, and no one spent the meal with their face buried in a smartphone. I miss that.

I spend 9 hours a day at work in front of two computers, why on earth do I need a phone to send me more email during my short commute home, where I have another two computers? Or get Twitter messages in bed? Long story short: I’m going back to my Nokia bar phone for a while, as a cleanse. Unlike those unhealthy and bizarre juice cleanses, this one makes sense. A phone that just makes phone calls. What a novel concept.

Turtleneck Weather

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Peter Lindbergh for the Pirelli Calendar 2014

Let the record reflect that today, September 9th, I wore my first turtleneck of the season. Granted, it’s a short sleeved sweater, but it still counts. It was a chilly 60 this morning, going up to 75. I need it to dip another 10-15 degrees so I can bust out the rest of my impressive stack of turtlenecks. I look as good in them as these fine ladies do, obviously.

PS. Thank you all for the kind words on this post. They mean more to me than you know. I love you guys.

My Dad in Paris

When my dad died seven years ago, my brother and I had to undertake the arduous task of packing up his nearly 70 year life into boxes. Some things we gave to goodwill (furniture, kitchen goods), some things we threw away, but most went into boxes and into storage, where they sat up until two weekends ago, when my brother had everything brought to the garage at his new house. There was simultaneously less and more than I remember; maybe 60 boxes and hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of paintings, canvases, framed, in stacks inside print racks. I went out this past weekend to help inventory the boxes and begin unraveling some of what we’ve kept out of sight over the last seven years, and also got to pick through and bring some things home with me. I suspect I will end up taking a LOT more as we really start unpacking (and we already have his drafting table as our dining table), but for now I took a few boxes of giant art books on Turner, Sargent, Monet, some dishes (like his espresso cup set and crème brûlée ramekins), and, most excitingly, several packs of photographs from his trip to Paris in the early 90s. He stayed in an apartment on Rue Cler with his best friend and his best friend’s wife.

When I try to explain to people what Paris means to me, it’s hard to verbalize because it just feels like an engrained piece of who I am. I’m Erin, I love Paris. Going through my dad’s things, seeing his piles of books of Paris walking tours and Parisian art history and Parisian maps and historical fictions, it became more obvious to me than ever before that this is genetic. I didn’t inherit Paris from thin air; Paris was a humongous part of my dad’s heart and soul, and it’s part of mine, too. I didn’t have a choice in the matter. It’s just how it is.

I debated over sharing these photos (some things are just a little too personal), but I couldn’t help but want to share the joy going through them brought me. There must be 300 photographs, and my dad is in precisely two. It was incredible seeing Paris through his eyes.

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And there’s my daddy, somewhere in the Tuileries, pretending to hold up the Obélisque in the Place de la Concorde in the background. That was his uniform, right down to his beloved Teva sandals. If it were chilly he would wear socks with them. Chillier still, long pants, maybe a sweater. He’s right there, frozen in time in my favorite city in the entire world, just as goofy and fun as he always was. It’s the perfect photograph of him. My heart burst when I first flipped to it. Hi, daddy. You know I’m going to replicate this photo the next time I’m in Paris, right? Mais oui.

Have a wonderful weekend, kiddos. Hug your papas tight.

We Went to the Aquarium

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Over the long weekend, Jamal suggested we do something we’d never done before despite one of us having been born and raised here: take the ferry from Philly to Camden and go to Adventure Aquarium. So as not to seem too juvenile, we invited along two sets of his friends and their children (3 under 3). I love aquariums. I love fish and water and sea life and turtles and PENGUINS. Good lord, those African Penguins and their perfectly cute butt-wiggles. Did you know that most of the animals at the aquarium are fed restaurant-quality food? Including steaks for the sharks, squid for the penguins. I don’t know what they feed seahorses or sea dragons, but I’m guessing it’s Adorable Pills because come on. The latter look like cartoons. It was a great afternoon with great friends (AND PENGUINS). Not pictured: the explosive diarrhea one of the hippos released right next to the glass where we were standing. You’re welcome!

(It goes without saying: I love my new(old) lens)

Pure Collection

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You would think I’d be safe from the shopping bug while reading the Sunday NYTimes, considering it’s purely an intellectual pursuit, and you’d be right…until it comes to T Magazine or the small clothing catalogues they sometimes include, folded in with the rest of the sections. This weekend’s catalogue insert introduced me to Pure Collection, a UK clothing company specializing in cashmere tops and sweaters and even dresses. How did I live before without a cashmere boyfriend sweater? A raw silk dress? Aren’t these photos from their lookbook just stunning? They feel like Grown Up Clothes. I’m holding off on buying everything (heather gray cashmere, why are you so pretty?) because I have yet to go a month without spending money, per my 26 in 26. But you are under no such restrictions! Shop! Shop away! And if you shop through Ebates, you’ll get an extra 5% cash back!