Mon Cœur Est Cassé.

Boulevard des Courcelles

What a devastating, awful few days it has been. My heart breaks for the journalists at Charlie Hebdo, their families, the people of Paris, and Paris itself. Paris, light of my life. Seeing the Eiffel Tower go dark in honor of the victims was a somber, sobering sight. It brought tears to my eyes. But I’ve been so impressed with the resilience of the people of France, rallying together for peaceful, reflective demonstrations, holding pens in the air in solidarity, in defense of freedom of expression. The gatherings could easily have been tinged with anti-Mulsim sentiment (would have, had the attack been carried out in the states), but they have instead stood together to say, “I am Charlie.” A sign at the demonstration at Place de la Republique declared, “Je me exprimé avec des mots parce qu’ils sont encore la plus belle arme.” I express myself with words, because they are still the most beautiful weapon. That is what I choose to do. It’s so easy to take the freedom of expression for granted, to not think of it at all because of how intrinsic a value it is. But an attack like this proves there are those who would silence any opposition, are in fact whole groups devoted to ensuring that silence at any cost. And that terrifying fact has only served to strengthen the resolve of those who fight with the pen, with words, with wit, with drawings, with expression. And that will always be the most beautiful weapon.

Charlie Hebdo will recover, will continue to publish not solely in defiance of the threats and attacks, but in celebration of their right to deliver whatever message they want, in whatever medium. We should truly all be so brave. Paris will recover, has shown it is capable of overcoming the darkness in the days since the attack. For a city so filled with light, how could it not?

Bon weekend, mes chéris.

Happy Birthday, Fitz!

Happy Birthday, Fitz!

Happy Birthday, Fitz!

Happy Birthday, Fitz!

Somebody had a birthday yesterday! Fitz, you’re four! He was totally unfazed by all the high-pitched squealing I was doing in celebration, though he rightly interpreted it as a sign to be extra demanding of belly rubs. It even snowed yesterday, and as snow is one of his favorite things (to eat, to play in, to pee on) I kept telling him it snowed just for his birthday. I can’t believe he’s four! When did this happen? I’d like to say that his age now ensures he’s outgrown all of his, um, insanity, but I’d be lying. Fitz will always be a crazy (wonderful! loveable!) puppy, no matter how old he is. (In fact, I refilled his Prozac prescription yesterday.)

Happy birthday, Fitzy! May you never outgrow your silliness, your darling sense of curiosity at any and all fridge-related sounds, or your willingness to give big sloppy kisses. Though may you please, please stop screaming at everything outside. I love you so much.

We’re Going to Italy! (And Paris, too)

jan5_italy

photo via Hither & Thither

Back in August, Jamal and I booked a two week trip to Italy for this coming May. We’re going to Italy! It will be a first trip for both of us. I’ve been keeping the news under wraps for a while, because we were a month away from the wedding and subsequent honeymoon when we booked, so I’m sure it would’ve sounded strange (entitled? spoiled?) that we would even be thinking about another European vacation (not to mention financially irresponsible). But, like my flight to Paris last spring, and like our honeymoon flight to Athens, we booked this trip to Italy entirely on Jamal’s frequent-flyer miles. The next three weeks find him boarding 14 airplanes to two different countries for three different work trips, so these miles are hard-earned. (And very, very well spent, I hasten to add.)

We booked with Delta, and as there are no direct flights from Philadelphia to Rome, we have a quick layover in Paris both directions. Just a few hours each, but a presented opportunity just long enough to send me spiraling into fits of Francophilic despair; “Do I have enough time to take the bus from Charles de Gaulle to the city and run around like a lunatic, buying and eating everything in my path?”

“This trip is about Italy,” Jamal reminded me. Frequently.

I did not listen.

Eventually, my threats of, “I’m going to pretend to go to the bathroom at the airport and then leave and go to Paris FOREVER,” wore him down, because Christmas morning after all the presents had been opened, Jamal said, “There’s one more present. Check your email.” He’d sent me an updated itinerary: that hour and a half layover on the way home had been extended to THREE DAYS in Paris, at the tail-end of an already indulgent 13 day trip to Italy. !!!!

I believe the phrase, “I CAN’T EVEN,” was coined for this exact situation.

Great husband or greatest husband? Rhetorical question!

My Parisian-excitement in no way detracts from my enthusiasm at exploring a new country. I am so, so looking forward to Italy. We don’t have much of a game plan yet, only a rough outline of an itinerary. We know we’re flying in and out of Rome, and we want to go to Florence and somewhere in either Tuscany or Umbria. The problem with Italy is that it’s so large and all so beautiful, we couldn’t possibly see it all on one trip. Rather than killing ourselves running around on vacation (we learned our lesson in Belgium a few years ago) we are going to stay on one coast and take our time. On the next trip we’ll get to Venice and Milan, or maybe even Sicily. If you’ve been to Italy, I’d love to hear all your tips! For example: Is it culturally acceptable to eat gelato for every meal of the day?

We’re going to Italy!

Oh, and did I mention WE’RE GOING TO PARIS, TOO?

2015: What Will Your Verse Be?

Rue du Pré aux Clercs

On New Years Day 2013 I woke up and decided, “I’m moving to Paris next year.” It would take a while for all the details to fall into place, of course, but, unsurprisingly, I now place a high value on even the most random and fleeting thoughts that manifest on January 1. What will 2015 look like for me? A stream of consciousness from the first day of the new year:

I’m going to finish my novel this year. I’m absolutely going to finish it. I just need some undisturbed time to devote to writing. I might get my real estate license, wouldn’t that be cool? I love real estate, it takes up a lot of my time as it is, just looking at houses and studying the market. I could sell houses, right? I could sell houses and then write part-time! I could work for Sotheby’s Real Estate. But then wasn’t there a real estate agent who was killed while showing a listing to someone? I mean, if you think about it, the logistics of sending single females to empty houses with random strangers has, like, all of the elements necessary for a Law and Order: SVU episode. I’m Erin, I’m Real Estate Agent. Or, yes yes yes, I could get an MFA in Creative Writing. Oh, I’m going to do that. Where does Paul La Farge teach? Bard! I could go to Bard. We could move to upstate New York for two years. We wouldn’t have to worry about Fitz because we could drive up with him. We’d need a car. I looked at Bard with my dad back in high school. What was my objection to it ultimately? It’s not in a city. But still! Paul La Farge could be my teacher. Wait, it’s $60k? For a creative writing masters degree? That is not a sound investment. I could apply to Hunter College! I was going to apply there for my undergrad degree all those years ago! They have a really good program! Hmm, this looks financially more feasible. $24k? I could swing that. All the classes start after 5:30pm, so I could work and still commute. It’s just two hours each way on the bus. Jamal says I will get burned out on that quickly. I need two letters of recommendation. I need to apply by February 1st. I want some cake. Cake! Why can’t I just eat cake for a living? I need a nap. I’m definitely going to finish my novel this year.