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Bonjour! I’m Erin.
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Monthly Archives: December 2016
You can see why I’m so in love with this neighborhood, right? The Rue des Martyrs winds its way up (fairly steeply) from the church of Notre Dame de Lorette to Pigalle, crossing the Boulevard de Clichy, and up to Montmartre, just east of the Abbesses metro. Which meant we weren’t too far from our beloved quartier, and so could still spend a lot of time there, too (and we did). There’s such an interesting, quiet authenticity to this neighborhood. Years ago, on the trip when Jamal & I got engaged, we stumbled up to Martyrs to a Sunday brocante where we bought old printing press letters in our initials, and it remains one of the highlights of all of our Paris trips. Staying here this time gave us a new perspective; stopping at the boulangerie on our corner after watching them bake the days’ provisions in their back kitchen window (lurker status: expert), shopping at the bio (organic) market for lentils and shallots, taking our petit dej at the same café every morning, joined by the very lovely cat who lived there.
We also did a lot of walking this trip, even though the public transit system was free the first few days we were there because of the overwhelming smog and pollution. On our second day, we walked from our apartment to the Marais for our macaron class, back to the 7eme to retrieve Jamal’s debit card (an ATM machine had eaten it the night before), over to Odéon, looped around the Jardin du Luxembourg, and finally stopping for dinner at a Tunisian couscous restaurant by Notre Dame. I collapsed into bed each night exhausted, but exhilarated, that classic Paris combination where I’ve run myself ragged but still can’t fall asleep because I don’t want to miss a single second. And if the photos above prove anything, there is a lot that happens at night. We rounded Luxembourg in a thick fog, and saw a lone gentleman in a wool coat and hat walking through the mist in the glow of a streetlamp. Jamal and I both stopped short and said, almost identically, that it was a movie poster or book cover come to life.
I know what you’re thinking: with a view like that, how did I ever leave the hotel room? (Short answer: the beckoning scents of warm pastries six floors down.) I landed in Paris before Jamal, and checked into our hotel –the hotel we booked for free using his seemingly limitless supply of points– to find they had upgraded me to their best room, the one at the very top of the building, with a king-size bed, an enormous bathroom with a rainfall shower, and, oh, A MAGNIFICENT VIEW OF THE EIFFEL TOWER. There are no words, just heart-eyes emojis.
When Jamal arrived from South Africa a few hours later, he found me in a puddle of my own drool out on the balcony, my camera in hand with my finger permanently pressed on the shutter button. No joke, I think I took roughly 150 photos of la tour the 24 hours we were in the room, capturing her in all different lights. (I slept with one eye on her, watching her sparkle at 11 and midnight, the fierce jetlag absolutely no match for her beauty.) Jamal managed to drag me out for food & a nice long walk, all the way to the Christmas market along the Champs-Élysées. It was overwhelmingly magical, and I couldn’t get over the size of it; it stretched from Concorde to Avenue Montaigne, on both sides of the wide boulevard, with hidden, smaller villages behind the main vendors. I’ve had plenty of people ask me why I would go to Paris in the winter, and the amount of Christmas cheer, the city all decked out for the holidays, is reason enough (like I need a reason).
The next day, we attended a macaron making class at La Cuisine Paris. I took the same class with my mom in March, and while I felt more confident this time around, the process is still extremely intimidating and nerve-wracking even with Jamal’s calming influence, and I’m more than happy to pay someone else, someone more skilled, $2-$3 ea. instead of making my own. (Guys there are SO MANY STEPS.) We also (sadly) checked out of the hotel and (happily!) moved to an apartment on Rue des Martyrs in the 9eme. We’d both read, “The Only Street in Paris: Life on the Rue des Martyrs” by Elaine Sciolino, former New York Times Paris bureau chief, earlier this year, and were smitten. It was a new neighborhood for us, just south of Montmartre/Pigalle, but it might be our new favorite. It felt like Montmartre the very first time we visited, with an authentic, local vibe. More photos to come, of course.
Well, it happened. Despite all of my foot-stomping and protestations, sometime around 4:30am, I left my 20s and crossed into my 30s. I could be dramatic and say I ‘felt’ it happen, but if there has been one reliable constant in my 30 years on this earth, it’s that I sleep hard (well, minus a bout of insomnia in high school and college) and I was blissfully unconscious when I was dragged over the invisible mile-marker that means I am officially a Grown Up. It’s so weird. I still sleep with a stuffed animal, how can I possibly be THIRTY? (Please don’t tell anyone I still sleep with a stuffed animal, it would ruin my Adult Street Cred.) I don’t feel 30, but then, I haven’t truly “felt” any of the ages since 17, which is where I am mentally permanently stuck. Do they let 17 year olds get married and pay bills? Is there a grown-uppier grown up I could talk to about this?
Back when I was actually 17, I used to think 30 sounded so old (I still do), and so important (it still is, to me). I used to think I’d have everything figured out in my life, which is laughable because there are still areas of my life that I need to figure out that I don’t even know about yet. Does that make sense? I don’t know what I don’t know, but I do know that, despite not “having it all together” I am very, very lucky. I have my health, I have my family, I have my incredible friends everywhere from Philadelphia to California to Paris to Capetown, and I have Jamal & Fitz.
A few months ago, I made a short list of goals I wanted to accomplish before this big day. Let’s refresh:
1. Finish my novel
2. Go to Paris
3. Find a job that makes me happy
I have not finished my novel (I know, I know) but I am so, so close. The last half of this year has been wildly productive, and I am proud of my progress despite the fact I can’t yet call it “complete.”
I did go to Paris! Spoiler: it was as incredible as ever. As promised, I have a ton of photos to share you with you, starting with the one above, which was snapped from the baller hotel room we stayed in the first night. (Can 30 year olds use the word “baller”?) The trip was a delicious dream, and I am grateful beyond words that I was able to go last week to celebrate this birthday a little early.
And as for the job, I’ve been a little mum about this over the past few months, but back at the beginning of September I started an internship in the Fine Art Department at the oldest auction house in the country. I applied for mostly selfish reasons (given that my novel is set in an auction house, I figured working in one would be the best hands-on book research, and it absolutely has been!) but very early on I realized that I had finally, finally found a job I enjoyed going to every day. It’s been a dream: I’ve gone to the New York to show two Rembrandt etchings to an expert, proofread catalogues for sales, worked on condition report photos and measurements for countless paintings and lithographs from artists like Delacroix, Miró, Warhol, Roesen, Ensor, Picasso. It has been, honestly, more rewarding than I imagined, and for more than just my novel; this is the first job I’ve ever really loved. The only downside, because no job is perfect, is that, being an internship, it is unpaid. The team I work with has been so encouraging and supportive, and just yesterday the COO of the company pulled me into a conference room to tell me she received a glowing recommendation from the department, and after the New Year, they want to offer me a more permanent, paid position. Talk about timing. Talk about great birthday presents.
Well, kiddos, I’m off to eat macarons for breakfast and write all day, with a pit-stop for French class, too. Not a bad way to turn 30, still basking in the glow of my last Parisian adventure. Happy birthday to me!
December 20, 2016 / life / dog /
I’m flying to Paris today! This is my second trip of the year, which sounds indulgent, and it would be, if I didn’t need Paris the way some people need oxygen. Is that a bad analogy? Hear me out: I have asthma, so I know the sensation of feeling like I can’t breathe, scrambling, panicky, for my inhaler so I can stop the wheezing; when I go too long between trips to Paris, the feeling is the same. Going restores my equilibrium, fills my lungs. And when you’re less than two weeks from turning
30 29 again, a trip to Paris is a necessity.
I’m flying alone, because Jamal is South Africa (of course he is), though he’ll meet me there. It felt wildly cosmopolitan to say goodbye to him last week by saying, “I’ll see you in Paris.” I’m landing on what would have been my dad’s 78th birthday, which was an unintentional but agreeable coincidence, and I can’t think of a better way to honor his day than to spend it in his favorite city. I’m staying at a hotel in the 7th arrondissement (exactly at the intersection where this photo was taken, in fact) for the first night, and then moving to an apartment on the Rue des Martyrs. Not Montmartre, I know, which is an insane deviation for us, but I think we’ll survive.
Billions of photos to come! But first, I have to take Fitz to his beloved dogsitter, then finish packing. (Just kidding, I’m entirely packed.) Au revoir mes amis!
December 8, 2016 / Travel /