Monthly Archives: June 2016

The Ritz, Reopened

Ritz Paris

Ritz Paris

Ritz Paris

Ritz Paris

Ritz Paris

Ritz Paris

Ritz Paris

I’ve never been to the Ritz Paris. I’ve walked by it on Place Vendôme countless times, but as early as my visit in 2012, the hotel has been under varying degrees of construction and renovation. It reopened, finally, in early June of this year, after four years and over €200+ million with newly updated air-conditioning, plumbing, and heating. The hotel originally opened its doors on June 1, 1898, by Swiss hotelier César Ritz, and was the picture of modern luxury even back then: each room had a private bathroom. The Ritz Paris has played host and home to some very famous (and infamous) guests over the course of its 118 year history: Hemingway used it as his base when he covered the war, as did war photographer Robert Capa; Chanel lived there for 34 years; and even Princess Diana and her partner Dodi Fayed stayed there the night before they were killed in a car accident in the Pont de l’Alma (his father, Mohamed al-Fayed, bought the Ritz in 1979). It’s appeared in Hemingway’s, “The Sun Also Rises,” the movie “How to Steal a Million” with Audrey Hepburn & Peter O’Toole (a delightful Parisian art heist, I highly recommend it!), and was the subject of a fascinating biography simply titled, “The Hotel on Place Vendôme.” Christ, even the Luftwaffe, the Nazi air national guard, used the Ritz as their own personal barracks during the occupation (the Gestapo stayed at the Hotel Lutetia in Saint-Germain, which, oddly enough, I stayed at during my very first trip to Paris in 2001, and which is also currently closed for renovations).

Once I heard the Ritz was planning on reopening, it became a bucket list goal to spend a night there. But when the cheapest room starts at €1000/night, I might have to console myself with a drink at the Hemingway Bar instead. Or maybe afternoon tea in their newly opened garden. Because while I may never spend a night in the Fitzgerald suite (so named for, who else, F. Scott himself, who included the Ritz Paris in “Tender is the Night”), Hemingway was certainly right when he said, “When I dream of afterlife in heaven, the action always takes place in the Paris Ritz.”

June 29, 2016 / home design / Travel / LEAVE A COMMENT / 2

Three Before Thirty

Cotton candy clouds

June 20th, just a few days ago, was the summer solstice, the longest day of the year in this hemisphere. The sun stayed out until after 9:30, and Fitz and I sat on our front stoop watching the sky change from blue to golden to pink to the color of a fading bruise before ducking back inside. When I was younger, my dad and I would pack a picnic and head to the West River Drive, savoring the late light. Fitzgerald said it best, through Daisy in “The Great Gatsby”: “Do you always watch for the longest day of the year and then miss it? I always watch for the longest day of the year and then miss it.” I didn’t miss it this year.

June 20th was the longest day of the year, and also exactly six months until my 30th birthday. It was hard for me to miss the irony that the last six months of my 20s began on a day after which every subsequent day would be a little bit shorter, a little bit darker. It’s rather poetic, my slow descent into my 30s being marked by a day after which literally everything goes downhill. The countdown to this December 20th seems more menacing than in years past, and in looking for a source on which to pin blame, I uncovered a universal conspiracy designed to drive home the fact that turning 30 is ominous. Because in case I needed further convincing of just how serious and scary 30 is, every day the sun will set earlier and earlier as I inch closer and closer to not-20 until the big day arrives and it is the shortest, darkest day of the year.

Of course, this could all be a coincidence. How likely is it that the sun has a personal stake in assuring I am adequately terrified of my impending birthday? (Answer: very, I’ve done nothing but speak ill of the sun my entire life and have taken great pains to avoid its rays at all costs, and just had my first laser cosmetic procedure last week to remove some hideous freckles, I shit you not). Perhaps I’m being dramatic; it’s been known to happen. It all just seems so conveniently timed, you know? The universe is sending me a message loud and clear, and I GOT IT, I HEAR YOU.

I’ve channeled all this doom & gloom into a bucket list, of sorts. I looked at my life and realized there were things I wanted, things I needed to accomplish before I turn 30, and I’m going to use these last six months to do it. Not because I legitimately believe I’m like Cinderella at the ball and I’m going to turn back into a pumpkin at the stroke of midnight on December 20th, but because there are things that I always thought I would have figured out by the time I left my 20s.

Herewith, my top three before thirty:

1. Finish my novel
2. Go to Paris
3. Find a job that makes me happy

I could’ve picked thirty things, for symmetry’s sake, things like “take French classes again,” and “workout twice a week,” and “grow boobs finally,” but I didn’t want my main focuses to be diluted amongst 27 other, less important goals. These three represent the entirety of my hopes and dreams to close out this decade. I want to celebrate this milestone birthday knowing I accomplished writing a novel. And of course, if I have to turn 30, I might as well do it in Paris, non? Finding a job that makes me happy (and that also pays decently) may be a bit of a challenge, but I’m really going to give it my best shot. Because 30 means I’m an adult, and adults have their lives and careers together. Don’t they?

Wish me luck!

June 27, 2016 / life / dog / LEAVE A COMMENT / 4

Beware of All Enterprises That Require New Clothes

workout

I wasn’t born with endorphins.

The exhilarating rush people describe experiencing during or after a work-out, that “natural high” everyone else seems to enjoy from making themselves sweat, from pushing their bodies to the limit, is a completely foreign concept to me. I have never –not once, not ever, not even in high school gym class or all the years I danced ballet and took classes four times a week– felt good after exerting any physical energy. I kept waiting for it, thinking that like so many muscle memories, it was a learned sensation that would come with time, or a different work-out, or something. I’ve tried running, yoga, an hour of cardio followed by a weight machine circuit (four or five times a week, back when I was unemployed right after college), cardio followed by yoga, pilates, pilates before cardio, but have finally just accepted the fact that I am a lazy sack of bones for whom endorphins are just not on the genetic menu. I have never enjoyed working out.

And for most of my life, this wasn’t a problem. Blessed as I was with a magnificent metabolism and two tall and skinny parents, nothing stuck to me for the longest time. When I graduated high school, I was under 100lbs –skinny, yes, but proportionate to my bone structure and a lingering benefit from all that ballet. And then, somewhere around the age of 23, everything started sticking to me, including things I wasn’t even eating; I could smell someone else eating a hamburger and somehow it would manifest on my thighs. Gone were the days where I could eat two breakfasts, down an entire order of wings for dinner followed by a sleeve of oreos, and still somehow fit into a 00 waistband at Delia’s (omg does anyone else remember that store??). A few years ago, I started really watching what I was eating, knowing that since I hated working out and all but refused to break a sweat, I had to find a balance in what I was putting in my body. That worked, for a while.

But did I mention I am lazy? Do I need to say that a sheet cake tastes better than a kale salad? That I’d rather eat a jar of frosting with a spoon for dinner than literally anything else? Old habits die hard, and I inevitably slipped up. For the last year. And underneath all my gluttony, my abject hatred of exercise persisted. I basically thought, and still think, that people who rave about feeling excellent and invigorated after a work-out are huge liars. There is no way anyone leaves the gym feeling good or frankly anything other than like a giant pile of floppy pool noodles that’s been set on fire. Right?!

But, guys, I’m six months away from 30, and if that isn’t enough of a motivator to get into the best shape I can be before it all goes to shit I don’t know what is. If my body doesn’t bounce back from a weekend of binge eating cupcakes and snarfing down nachos at 29 the way it did at 19, what the hell do I expect at 39?

SO. Despite being endorphinally challenged, I dropped a ton of money on exercise leggings and grippy socks and sports bras and sneakers and a membership to Pure Barre, all the while repeating that famous Thoreau line from “Walden”: “Beware of all enterprisest hat requrie new clothes.” I took my first class last Thursday, and it was legitimately precious to picture my confidence before setting foot in the studio. “I danced ballet for 14 years, how hard can this be?” The sweet, gorgeously fit girl who signed me up was also the instructor for my first class, and let me tell you, I liked her a lot less once she donned her headset and was barking instructions at me for 55 sweaty, shaky minutes. I couldn’t do half of the stuff she was asking. Unsurprisingly, I am woefully out of shape! I looked at myself in the mirror at one point, and looked like someone had slathered me in Crisco. “Girls don’t sweat, they glisten,” is a load of bollocks spoken by someone who has never taken a barre class before.

But then, the oddest thing happened. I got home, and managed to clean myself up despite not being able to use any of my limbs, and I wanted to try again. I wanted to go back and do better than I had the first class. I wanted to be able to look back in a month and realize I’d made progress. Don’t misunderstand me, in no way did I feel good. My missing endorphins didn’t make a surprise appearance and make me feel blissful and alive; I felt like death had run me over in a steam roller. But I still wanted to go back! So I’m heading to my second class this morning, and I’m hoping I don’t need help crawling into my house because Jamal left yesterday for a business trip, and Fitz is only interested in licking the sweat off my forehead and shins.

Wish me luck!

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June 6, 2016 / life / dog / LEAVE A COMMENT / 6