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Bonjour! I’m Erin.
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Monthly Archives: August 2015
It seems as though yesterday was National Dog Day, and I missed it. Fitz, I’m so sorry! He has no idea, frankly, because he believes that every day is National Dog Day, and relegating it to just one day per year seems preposterous to him. He’s got a point, especially when I think of how big a personality he has in his flopsy, silly little body, and realize there’s no way you can contain celebrating him to a single day. Every day is a celebration when you have a dog, am I right?
This has been a big year for Fitzwater the Wonder Puppy, as we’ve finally gotten rid of his crate and have started leaving him free range in the house by himself when we leave. It sounds like we’re begging for disaster, I know, given his track record when we tried this a few years ago (we ended up at Penn Vet Hospital too many times to count, because he ate all the things, including two rugs and two week’s worth of aspirin and fish oil pills Jamal’s parents had, as well as the plastic pill containers they came in —that vet bill was bananas). But at four and a half years old (stop growing up!) he has matured to the point where he will happily sleep on the sofa and not touch anything even without supervision, and I think he’s really grateful for the freedom and the show of trust, and is trying not to screw it up. Oh, buddy. I love you so!
August 27, 2015 / life / dog /
I’ll let the pictures do the talking (and the selling) for this incroyable apartment, located in the 16eme near Trocadero. The views are, simply, breathtaking, and if there were ever an excuse to get me into the kitchen (a room I generally ignore) it would be the promise of la Tour greeting me from the window. I love everything about this place, from the floors, to the original mouldings, to even the vintage Louis Vuitton suitcase in the office. Even the stairwell is perfection! My first act though, once I’d moved in and claimed the space as my own, would be to move the desk chair to the other side of the desk so it’s facing the window. Who in their right mind wants to sit with their back to Paris? Though now that I think of it, talk about a writing distraction.
Price? An astronomical, never-going-to-be-affordable-except-in-my-wildest-dreams: $9,368,338 / €8.350.000
Yesterday marked 100 days until I head back to Paris again, but who’s counting. (Me. I’m counting.) I leave after Thanksgiving, which sounds so far away, but with the way this year has been moving I know I’ll blink and be boarding a plane, embarking on my second solo trip to what, honestly, feels like home. It will be my second time going in winter, too, though I think late November/early December tend to be more temperate than the deep midst of March (at least, that’s what I’m hoping). I love winter, I love everything about it; the cold, the damp, the early darkness, so I’ll welcome the grisaille that Paris is known for at that time of year with an almost emo-kid excitement. Blue skies, like the ones above I experienced last spring and this one, aren’t bad either, though.
I’ve stayed true to the promise I made myself when I started this new job, and have spent a ton of time working on my novel, dedicating solid, uninterruptible chunks of time to it (along with starting my real estate license studies!), which somewhat explains my extended absences around these parts. I have a nine page outline, going chapter by chapter, of how I want the book to come together, with questions for myself, things I need to fill in, flesh out, rework. There’s so much editing and cutting out and paring down. When I first started three years ago (!!!), this was just about a French girl. Now, she’s just one character in a story that has evolved past her, into something entirely different.
The one upside to taking such an extended break from working on it for the better part of the last year is that I can approach the draft with fresh eyes, and less of an attachment to passages and portions I previously would have been unable to chop. And chop I have, to the tune of roughly 20k words. Before, I had one massive, 183 page, 80k word document with virtually no sense of cohesion, and I would rely on my memory of specific words or phrases in each scene, to ctrl+f whichever section it was I wanted to work on (author’s note: I do not recommend this strategy). Now, I have a new document, organized by the chapters I’ve set up in my outline, and have been placing in large blocks of text that I’ve already written, tweaking them, cutting extraneous backstory that, while helpful to me originally, doesn’t help the story as it stands now. I am really happy with the way it’s coming along, and am aiming to have a completed, presentable first draft by the end of the year.
That week in Paris already has its work cut out for it.
August 21, 2015 / Travel /
Remember this art heist I shared back in March? A refresher: a package, labeled as a Christmas present worth €30, was shipped from Belgium to New Jersey with instructions to be transferred to a temperature-controlled art storage facility. Tipped off by the incongruity of needing to store a “handicraft” in such a high tech environment, Customs Officials seized the package, only to discover it was a 1911 Picasso painting, titled “La Coiffeuse” (“The Hairdresser”) which the Centre Pompidou in Paris had reported as stolen in 2001. The Pompidou can’t nail down a firmer timeframe or suspect, because they only realized the painting was missing when a loan request came in for it and they couldn’t locate it in storage. Three words, guys: routine inventory checks!
The museum sent officials to authenticate the painting in February, and the US Attorney’s office filed a civil complaint to return the painting to France. In typical bureaucratic fashion, the official hand-off didn’t occur until last Thursday, at the French Embassy in Washington:
It’s uncertain if the painting will ever be put back on display at the museum (but here’s hoping!).
You can read more about art heists here.
August 19, 2015 / Art Heist /
Friends! I am excited to share with you a completely revamped Print Shop! After some consideration (and more than a few requests) I’ve decided to make photos of our trips to Italy and Greece available for purchase, as well as offering a tighter selection of Paris photographs (editing them down from 28 to 12 was my own personal Sophie’s Choice). Take a look and let me know what you think! To celebrate the relaunch, I’m offering FREE SHIPPING on all orders until August 31st! Happy shopping, kiddos. As always, thank you so much for your continued support with this little venture!
This change to include more destinations besides Paris was necessitated by a very exciting recent event: we booked a trip to Spain! Jamal travels constantly for work (I’m basically married to George Clooney’s character from the movie “Up In The Air”), but the upside is that he accumulates a ton of reward miles. My flight to Paris last year, our honeymoon in Greece, and our flights to Italy this spring were all free, thanks to his seemingly endless supply of air miles. Case in point: this week, we booked two roundtrip, nonstop tickets to Barcelona and Madrid for 11 days next April and May, and only paid something like $48 in taxes. We’re going to Spain! I need to work on my nonexistent Spanish, as I only know how to say “meatballs,” of all things. (Albondigas!) But otherwise I am beyond thrilled. Have you been before? I would love any and all suggestions you might have! ¡Viva España! ¡Viva The Print Shop!
August 13, 2015 / art / photo /
To celebrate our upcoming one year wedding anniversary in early September (pause here: OMG HOW HAS IT ALMOST BEEN A YEAR ALREADY WE STILL HAVE THANK YOU CARDS TO SEND) Jamal and I bought a new mattress. We decided that being married for a year makes us Grown-Ups, and it was time to have a grown-up mattress, too (we do not have matching silverware, but that will probably come for anniversary #2). After our honeymoon, we splurged on buying pillows from the hotel we stayed at on our last night in Athens, ultra luxurious, plush feather down, that were over $100 a piece (!!) and a fancy, 300-thread count sheet set which cost less than one single pillow (thanks, Martha Stewart for Macy’s!). But our mattress situation still left something to be desired; it was one of those all spring coil, blue floral numbers, which was fine, but nothing special. So, off to Macy’s we went during one of their huge blowout sales two weeks ago, and out we walked with a new mattress (not literally, that thing is enormous and we had it delivered this past weekend). And thanks to the sale, we got it for less than half of what it retails for normally! The full specifications are: Sealy Beautyrest Recharge Vanderbilt Collection Allie Firm Pillowtop, but you can just refer to it as “HEAVEN OMG” because OMG it is HEAVEN. It is the most comfortable thing I’ve ever laid on, and while I was worried it might be too firm, the pillowtop makes it like sleeping on a plush, supportive cloud. Even Jamal (who was lukewarm about the whole idea, and who claimed he couldn’t tell the difference between any of the mattresses we tried because he sleeps in so many hotels and all beds end up feeling the same to him) crawled into it the first night and could barely articulate, “Oh, okay, this is amazing,” before immediately conking like he had been drugged.
I am in love with this mattress, and I think I finally understand why all of Charlie’s grandparents lived in one bed in “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.”
August 11, 2015 / life / dog /
I had a dream a few days ago, where I was walking with a group of people I didn’t recognize, on a street that looked similar to the windy, cobbled street along the northern side of the Arno in Florence, when through the crowd I saw my dad approaching, only he looked different –shorter, with wider eyes and different glasses. He was wearing a navy blue peacoat with some sort of crest on the lapel. I pushed through the group and ran towards him yelling, “Daddy! Daddy!”
In the morning I felt, briefly –before the sadness came rushing in– that I had gotten to see him, and it felt so good after so long without him. This happens every so often, and always in the dream I think, “Oh, there you are! I’d wondered where you’d gone!”
My dad died nine years ago today, and it seems as impossible to have been this long as it did last year, and the year before, and every year before it, up to the day it happened. How can a literal half of your entire world disappear? I still don’t understand it, and while some days I’m fine and happy and functioning, and the realization that I lost him is in the background like a dull headache, there are more days than not where it feels like the grief is going to strangle the life out of me, that I’m just going through the motions because it would break his heart if I don’t.
He would tell me to stop being so dramatic, smooth out his mustache and place the palm of his hand at the top of my head. And then he’d probably offer to buy me a lip gloss to cheer me up.
I don’t know when Paris became synonymous with my dad for me, but I can’t untangle the two now. At some point, being in Paris, thinking about Paris, reading about Paris, writing about Paris, became a way of feeling close to him. The more obsessed I grew (grow) with that city, I somehow feel like I’m holding on more strongly to his memory. I don’t have any of the heartbreaking associations of him in Paris that I do here in Philadelphia; I can’t look up at his old apartment window when I walk back from Trader Joe’s without crying, and almost every corner in the city holds a “My dad and I…” connection. The museum, Fairmount Park, his many office buildings, seeing his old car, randomly meeting an old friend of his in French class last year. In Paris, I can picture him how he might have been if we’d gone together, how he’d looked when he went, sitting with his legs crossed at an outdoor café table, nursing an espresso with a sketchbook and a small paint set on the table next to him. There aren’t streets in Paris I avoid because it’s where a certain hospital is. The ease and rightness I feel there has a lot to do with how detached it is from the specific reality of my dad not being here anymore.
So I booked a flight to Paris this morning. I’ve been eyeing flights for weeks, watching the prices dip and attempting to justify the spoiled sense of entitlement at taking two trips to Paris in the same year. This morning I woke up, burst into tears, and sent a quick text to Jamal (who’s traveling on his second trip in three days) that read: “Can you live without me for a week?” And then I came upstairs, made myself a mug of Mariage Frères Paris Breakfast tea, put on my dad’s favorite classical music station, and booked it. I leave the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Did I use today (my dad, my sadness) as an excuse? Probably, but I don’t think my dad would’ve cared. I think he would just be happy I’m going back to Paris.
I miss you, daddy. More than I’ll ever be able to articulate. I miss you like a phantom limb. I can’t wait to tell you all about Paris in the winter.
August 6, 2015 / life / dog /