Ask Me Anything

Rue Cardinale

Even though I’ve had this blog for nearly four years now (!!), we’re all aware that, except on rare occasions, blog posts aren’t always representative of the lives we lead offline. I constantly debate whether or not to post more personal things, or whether to keep things light and fluffy. I strive to be as authentic as possible either way; you all know I’m obsessed with cheese, Paris, and lose my shit over the silliest Youtube videos. But what if you’re relatively new around here, or I’ve been unintentionally vague about something? (for example: why haven’t I mentioned Gary Oldman in a few months?)

I’ve always wanted to do a question & answer session, like those Reddit AMAs with celebrities. I’m not deluded enough to think people are clamoring to ask me their most burning questions –or that I’m even interesting enough to warrant curiosity outside of what I talk about on this blog– but I thought it might be fun to try anyway. So! You ask, I answer. What’s my favorite movie? Desert island book? Why haven’t I mentioned Gary Oldman in a few months? Super personal questions like bra size or annual salary (both embarrassingly small) or on subjects out of my depth (basically anything with math or, like, quantum physics) won’t be answered, but otherwise you can ask me anything you’ve been curious about. Favorite word? Scariest childhood memory? How did Jamal and I meet? Just how vain do I think I am to host one of these? The floor is yours!

I’ll keep this post pinned to the top of my blog for the next week and will answer your comments here or in a separate post, if the question is really good or warrants a more in-depth response. Anonymous posting is okay! I can’t wait to see what you come up with.

Check out the FAQ before asking your question, as I might have already addressed it there!

35 thoughts on “Ask Me Anything

  1. I would like to know more about your favourite patîsserie/gâteau in Paris. That you can find in a local boulangerie. And tell us why! I need some new tips, I’m stuck eating nutella croissants, need to kind courage to find something new and equally yum.

    1. Ooh, French desserts! One of my favorite topics :) I love a good tarte au citron, but I love sour citrus. I didn’t think I liked eclairs until I moved to Paris, and I realized that the cream used to fill them at bakeries here is just too sweet and heavy. When done properly, like they were in France, eclairs are light and airy and everything sort of melts together.

      If I had to pick, my favorite sweet from a patisserie in Paris would have to be a tie between the moelleux à la pistache (unpronounceable to me. I struggled with “moelleux” the whole time I was there), a dense, moist little cake that’s not too sweet but sometimes had blueberries baked in, for some tartness, or anything with pralines. Pralines in France are almost always made with pink sugar, so brioche aux pralines or eclairs au praline are bright pink. Also, delicious. Brioche aux pralines might be my favorite.

      If you can, snag a moelleux à la pistache from Boulanger Alexine in Montmartre, or a brioche praline from Le Boulanger des Invalides Jocteur in the 7eme. I promise both spots are worth the trip! Alexine also had my favorite baguette in the city.

      …and now I’m starving! :) xo

    1. In general: a gray, quiet day to myself, to wander, sit with my notebook, and have the radio on to classical music, the volume almost too low to hear. Writing is a solitary pursuit by nature, so anywhere I can write feels like a grand moment de solitude for me.

      A specific time: One day in early May, Paris (quelle surprise!). I walked from my apartment in Montmartre down to Saint-Germain and back and then sat at my desk letting the words pour out of me. If I could relive any single day, it would be that one. It was sunny with still a hint of chill in the air, and it was the first day in Paris that I finally realized I was in Paris. Pure magic.

      Et vous? xo

  2. I like Q&As! Okay to nix this if it’s too personal but how are you and JAMAL going to tackle the holidays with your respective families? I always found splitting the holidays with different sets of people to be tough because they were ALL special to my family and then people’s feelings got hurt…

    1. Not too personal! It’s a good question, and splitting holidays and running all over the place to make sure you see everyone on the day-of is such a headache. We’ve had Thanksgiving at his parents’ house and at my brother’s some years. One year, he went to his family’s house Christmas Eve, I stayed at my mom’s, and then Christmas night he drove from his parent’s house to my aunt’s house with Fitz in the backseat to have dinner with my family, and then we drove home. Madness. We decided last year to alternate which side of the family we spend Thanksgiving with, and then stay home for Christmas and spend Christmas morning together opening presents. That was the first time in four years we saw each other Christmas morning! It was a long overdue decision, and it was time we started our own traditions. We saw my family later in the day, and his parents came down the following weekend. Bonus: Christmas felt like it lasted forever because we were still opening gifts a week later! Ha!

      Honestly, you have to just decide one plan, one destination, and stick to it. You know that movie “Four Christmases”? That should never happen in real life! People will understand if they can’t see you on the day. Your sanity and the ability to enjoy the holiday without feeling like you’re rushing a million places is more important. xo

  3. I was going to ask why Jamal had a different name on your wedding stuff, and is his name really Jamal, but I just read your FAQ and now I know! I thought his name Jamal this whole time until I saw those photos. Have been following your blog for probably a couple years now and never read your FAQ, oops.

    But, now I feel like my big question has already been answered! So, uh, maybe I’ll think of something later. This is more of a whine than a question, but why no more (or fewer) style/clothing posts? I miss them.

    1. Ha! I gave him that nickname when I was delirious with jet lag and post-engagement dizziness. It makes me giggle every time I use it, and provides him with some privacy. Win-win!

      And thank you for the suggestion about the style/clothing posts, Taylor! I had just assumed no one missed them, but I kind of missed doing them, so it’s good to know! Ask and ye shall receive :) I’ll post one next week! xo

  4. oooh ‘ask me anything’ you are so brave! all i have are really nosey questions like: book/future babies/job – do you have a plan for all this or are you just taking things as they come right now? also what about Paris? do you have plans to go back? and lastly (feel free to eliminate the other questions and just answer this one) how is mr. fitz?! xo

    1. Yay nosey questions! I promise they aren’t nosey though ;) Book/future babies/job! Okay: I think I’ll actually being the most proactive about the book, out of the three. I know I want to finish this book and hustle it to publishers and agents before bringing a tiny human into the world, because I’ve heard that things like “writing” and “personal time” are a bit harder once there’s a baby, haha. I definitely want to focus on the book and my own creative aspirations for a while.

      But yes, bébé (singular!) is on the horizon in the next two years or so, I’d say. Not that you can really plan for that kind of thing. And I have a nagging feeling that I’m infertile, which is a weird thing to be concerned about, but I remember always feeling convinced that I wouldn’t be able to get pregnant, even before I could physically even get pregnant. Even now, I doubt my own reproductive ability. That’s weird, isn’t it?

      Oh! Most importantly, Mr. Fitz is just swell. What a little stinker that dude is. I’ll have to post a Fitz-stagram soon! He sends his best to Ms. Marla, of course. xo

    1. Once?! I would never be satisfied! ;) This is a toughie, Catherine! My last few trips to Paris have found me in Montmartre, and I do love that neighborhood so, so much. Next time, though, I think I want to try staying on the other side of the river, la Rive Gauche. The pocket of town between the 7eme and the 6eme, right around the Musée Rodin and westward, a bit is such a dreamy neighborhood. Very quiet and residential there. Plus, the proximity to all the major sites (well, except for Sacré Cœur!) makes it ideal. Paris is so walkable, though, and the metro system is so efficient, that it almost doesn’t matter where you stay! xo

  5. Oooh this is good. What is your favorite donut flavor? If you could only read one book for the rest of your life, which book would you read? If you had a day off and you had to spend it in only one place in Philly, where would you go? Which is your favorite stand at the Reading Terminal Market? What’s the average length of your naps? (Ok, that’s a weird one.) Macaron, eclair, croissant, ou madeleine? And when can we meet in the city and gorge on French pastries and donuts?!

    1. I love your questions, Marine!! Oh my god, donuts. If we’re being honest, a good old sugar-covered, jelly-filled donut from Dunkin. Nothing fancy, but reliably delicious. And then that strawberry lavender flavor from Federal Donuts. But seriously, I’ll eat any donut, any time, anywhere. I have a bit of a problem!

      One book: man, make this tougher why don’t you! Ha, umm…The Phantom Tollbooth. That book is so magnificent and witty, pun-y and smart. It was the first book I read as a kid that made me think, “I want to write like that.”

      If I could only spend my day-off in one place in Philly, assuming the weather is decent: Rittenhouse square. I could park on a bench there and read and people-watch for hours (and then sneak up 19th street half a block to Rachael’s Nosheri and get a big bowl of matzo ball soup!). Any other time of year: the art museum. Hands down.

      I am in love with Iovine Brothers in the Reading Terminal for their fresh produce. And they take credit cards with no minimum, though I did still feel silly buying 75¢ green onions on my debit card. Oh! And that smoothie stand near the front by Bassett’s Ice Cream. They make seriously delicious smoothies that we always chug way too quickly and end up with brain freeze. You have to try one next time you go!

      Naps are the most delicious part of life. I can nap anywhere, and I usually average an hour and a half to two hours (that’s long, now that I think about it). What about you? Is there an average? Am I way over??

      Oh, mon dieu. Croissants, toujours. Macarons are a close second, mostly because they are harder to find (good ones) and pricier. I had a €1 croissant every day in Paris. I shouldn’t boast about that, should I? ;)

      And finally! Yes! Let’s please meet and eat all the donuts we can find! xo

      1. I’ll have to check out The Phantom Tollbooth… I’ve been re-reading books from childhood recently because I need some quick, light-hearted reading and it’s fun to re-familiarize myself with stories I only vaguely remember at this point in my life.

        Somehow I had a feeling you’d say the Art Museum… and I will most definitely check out Bassett’s Ice Cream next time I’m at the market!

        Sounds like we’re similar nappers. I can fall asleep anywhere (Shawn is always jealous of this fact) and try as I might, I can’t seem to keep my naps under 1.5 hours… I will set a timer for 20 minutes and then restart it 4 times before finally making my way off the couch (my favorite napping spot).

        And yes, I want all the croissants. I must have eaten a chocolate croissant every single day when I was in France. I am a huge fan of madeleines too though, personally.

        Perhaps after all this holiday craziness we can make plans to get together ‘in real life’ :)

  6. Yes, WHY haven’t you mentioned Gary Oldman in a few months? :)

    I love Q&As. I also struggle with the personal/light and fluffy dilemma.
    As for the question (that everyone has asked/will ask): When are you moving to Paris, girl? :)

    1. Ha, I knew someone would bite. ;) Oh, Gary Oldman. The reason he’s been absent around these parts: this interview he gave a few months ago. And not because of obvious fall-out he received for his comments (I don’t think he’s anti-semitic or racist, but it was easy to pull out sound-bites from that interview that illustrated otherwise. I think he was trying to express, very poorly, how far-reaching political-correctness is these days, but obviously veered wildly off course and should have stopped before he even opened his mouth) but because the interview itself was just so erratic. He seemed so off, almost like he was a mouthy drunk uncle at a holiday party you just can’t shut up. And it totally ruined the whole crush for me. Gone in one fell swoop. The best part about having a crush on a celebrity is that they’re almost not real people and you can imagine them any way you want. This interview was such a weird shock and totally shattered the illusions I’d had up to that point about him (entirely made up in my head, of course). It was fun while it lasted, though! And I do still think he’s a total silver fox. Sue me. xoxo

  7. I do want to know the Jamal love story, soup to nuts! And I second Christine’s question: book/future jobs/babies–what are you comfortable sharing as far as your plans for those things?

    1. Here’s a guest post I did on our “love story” for my friend Yelle’s blog! I just re-read it and got all swoony, haha.

      As for the book/future jobs/babies: We are definitely going to be a one baby family, when the time comes. We decided that a long time ago. (Unless, of course, I could magically get pregnant with twins, one boy and one girl, and then we’d never have to think, “What if…” AND I’d only have to endure one pregnancy. It would seriously be the greatest.) Jobs: At some point, without getting into too many specifics because most of my coworkers know about this blog, I will take some time to try to be a stay-at-home-writer. I was SO PRODUCTIVE with my writing in Paris, so I imagine I’ll be even more so here, where there aren’t nearly as many distractions (like ALL OF PARIS). That was a two-for-one answer, there! I want to finish this book and give it my all trying to get it published/in the hands of an agent, and that will be my full-time job at some point. I’ve made a deal with myself! xoxo

  8. thank goodness you directed us to your FAQs because i was going to ask about half those questions. instead i’ll probe deeper into one: what is your job if isn’t photojournalism-related, i’m interested to know if/how it translates into your current occupation (my older sister majored in marine biology and became a teacher; my brother sutied emergency medicine and became a financial advisor; i studied finance + accounting, but want to own a coffee shop – why does the “real world” insist that we need to know what we want to do professionally at such young ages?) i suspect it “pays the bills” until your book is published and is topping the best-seller’s lists. ;)

    1. Good guess on that last part, Lucinda! I think that’s a common theme these days, especially a few years ago when the economy was really tanking: “It pays the bills.” My job isn’t photojournalism related at all, which is good in that I get to take photos for fun; at the end of college I was super burnt out on my camera and put it down for almost two years. I needed a little distance from it, and now I can enjoy photography without having it tied to my grades or my paycheck, you know? Still, my job is not even a little bit creative (I work for a defense contractor, and I feel like Megan in Bridesmaids every time I tell someone that. “Now I work for the government. I have the highest possible security clearance. Don’t repeat that! I know where all the nukes are…Don’t repeat that!”) so it really does just pay the bills and allows me to pursue things that make me happy outside of the office. Increasingly, though, that’s not enough for me anymore. But I don’t know what I want to do besides write and go to Paris, both of which require money…it’s an endless cycle.

      If I could go back and do it all over again, I might have majored in Art History or French. I agree with you, and I almost wish we didn’t have to go to college until age 25, so you would have any sort of idea about what you really wanted to do/be. xoxo

  9. Hello there! I have NEVER, EVER, EVER, EVER done anything like this, but I really need to know: whos is your favorite NKOTB, and what’s your favorite NKOTB song. (Have been enjoying your blog these last few months, thnak you so much for the beautiful photos & writing).

    1. Hello, Gabriela!! I have ALWAYS been a Jon girl, even since I was five and got their first album. I always thought he was just so cute and wasn’t deterred when he came out a few years ago. He’ll always be my favorite! Who’s yours?? As for picking a song…gah! Old school song would have to be “Favorite Girl,” because I have fond memories of singing it with my dad in the car when I was in high school. From their two albums from their reboot the last few years, I really like “Twisted” because it was the perfect tempo to run to (back when I used to work out!).

      Thank you so much for your kind words :) xo

      1. Like I wrote on my 8th grade History text book, “I love Joe, I love Joe, I love Joe, I love Joe FOREVER!” (by the way, how unfair it was to ask you what’s your favorite NKOTB song…I tried to reply to my own question and half an hour later finally decided on “The right stuff” simply because it was the first NKOTB music I heard… =)

  10. J’aime beaucoup les histoires d’amour ! Donc, je voudrais savoir, ou, quand, comment …!! Tout sur Jamal et toi ! ;)
    Et aussi, es que vous envisagé sérieusement habité un jour à Paris???? xoxo

  11. Eva stole my question, haha! I was going to ask if you would ever really pick up and move to Paris, even if it’s just for a year or two!

    1. Absolutely, Gloria! That is definitely on our bucket list, even if it were just for a year or two. When we have a kid we’ll have a window of time before he/she is in school, when I imagine it will be doable. I’m terrified of checking Fitz in the cargo hold, though, especially after one airline just lost a passenger’s dog entirely! xo

  12. Oh gosh, so many questions! I’ll first start with these two: 1. Has there even been a book that you didn’t finish & it nagged at you and 2. Have you ever finished a book and thought “what the heck was all the fuss about that?”

    FYI, I’ll will be back for more, ha-ha!

    1. Funny timing with that first question (and actually maybe the second, too), HIllary. I’m a little more than halfway through “White Teeth” by Zadie Smith, which was assigned for a book club a friend of mine started, and I just can’t get through it, I don’t think. I just don’t care about any of the characters or where the story is going, and it’s bordering on being one of those books you mentioned in your second question. But I know it will nag at me, taunt me from my bookshelf for years, haha. To your second question: “The Goldfinch” was one of those for me. I read it back in January, before it won the Pulitzer, so my feelings of, “What is all the fuss about?” came later, rather than immediately after finishing it because it hadn’t been so universally fawned over yet. It’s a good book, don’t get me wrong, but I didn’t find it worthy of allll the insane praise it’s gone on to get. xo

      1. Are you psychic? Am I psychic? I was looking to purchase “White Teeth” and have heard not-so-great reviews, so I may save my money for something else. Glad I’m not the only one who didn’t care for “The Goldfinch.” It dragged on, especially the Vegas part. She needed a more stern editor. I don’t like critiquing books in this manner, but ~200 pages could have been cut.

        I do have more questions if this forum is still going? When your publishers are hammering you for another book after selling millions with your first, would you write a sequel to your current book or pen something different?

        1. You just took the words out of my mouth with your Goldfinch review! Two hundred pages easily could’ve been chopped. The last chunk when he’s in Amsterdam? Took 75 pages, could’ve been 15. He was in the hotel room for like 50 pages, being cold and taking showers and blacking out in an endless loop. Don’t even get me started on the Vegas years. She could’ve benefited from a more discerning editor, one that wasn’t already so clearly enamored with her and would have cleaned that book up and thinned it out. It’s a really unpopular opinion, though! I’m glad you get it.

          Ask away! First, I will say that I adore you for humoring me with all that talk about publishers beating my door down and millions of book sales…..wait, sorry, I got lost in a day dream there ;) HA. Both options –having more to tell in this one story or coming up with an entirely new one–seem completely unfathomable to me right now. But I have to remember that at one point, the thought of even getting 77k words in to this story seemed impossible, too. So who knows. I totally get why authors get attached to the same characters and end up writing long series with them; I love my characters, and I talk about them like they’re real people. In Paris last year, when I finally walked down the street in Saint-Germain where the art gallery in my novel is, I had the eeriest feeling that, at any moment, Sylvie or Mirette would pop out of a doorway. (That’s a sign of schizophrenia, isn’t it?). So I think I’ll always want to “revisit” them, so to speak, I just don’t want to create another story/continuation of this one for them if it doesn’t feel organic. But the idea of creating an entirely new novel from scratch is SO DAUNTING, haha. How do people like Stephen King do it? When you think of the 10 years it took Donna Tartt to write The Goldfinch, it kind of makes sense. You need enough distance between what you wrote last. (Though having read her previous book “The Secret History” after “The Goldfinch,” it’s clear she has very specific character archetypes she likes to stick to. There are a lot of similarities there, but I won’t spoil it if you haven’t read the former. xo

Comments are closed.