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Bonjour! I’m Erin.
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Category Archives: Friday Five
1. This combination of light and lattice that makes my heart go boom:
(That lens flare ain’t Photoshopped, either.)
2. I have this thing with doors:
That something as simple as a door could be so elegantly designed just because is just one of the many reasons I love this city.
3. Looking up from the gardens of the Musée Rodin, admiring the view:
As if there isn’t enough to marvel over in the actual museum gardens, the periphery has to be lined with classically lovely Parisian architecture, too.
4. This decadent dessert that was almost (almost!) too pretty to eat:
My mom and I splashed out one afternoon, and I treated us to tea and dessert at the Plaza Athénée. (You know, the hotel where Carrie stayed with The Russian.) And then because we hadn’t indulged enough, we went across the street to Louis Vuitton. As you do.
5. The best way to spend €7, as far as I’m concerned:
Why can’t there be more flower shops in Philadelphia? Rue Cler has about four in two blocks, and every bouquet is affordable, to boot.
Have a wonderful weekend, kiddos! For those of you sick of seeing Paris photos, I’m almost done, I promise!
Hello, kiddos! How has your week been? I’m sorry for having been absent; the pesky, time consuming minutae of my day-to-day threw me off balance. It seems plenty of us are struggling with that recently. But! I’m here now and, as it’s Friday, I have five interesting things that caught my attention this week to share with you:
Earlier this week, my favorite grand dame celebrated a special milestone: the 126th anniversary of her first public opening, all the way back on March 31, 1889 during the Exposition Universelle. I know this is brand new information (ha), but I have a deep, unwavering love of the Eiffel Tower; I’ve read books about its construction and books about fictional murders that occurred on it, and then of course there’s the precious habit I have of bursting into tears whenever I see her. We only have about 50 more days before we head back to Paris (by way of Italy this time!) and aside from deciding how early to start packing so as not to be judged too insane, I’m also getting so, so excited (understatement!) to see my special lady friend.
2. These incredible (and incredibly detailed) custom book jackets:
Juniper Books sells custom book covers and book collections, and can curate a bespoke library straight out of your dreams. As an unabashed bibliophile myself, it’s thrilling to see companies committed to not just selling books, but selling beautiful books. I first heard of them on CBS Sunday Morning last year, and they popped up again in this month’s Vanity Fair. Thatcher Wine, Juniper Books’ founder, says “the point is to enjoy looking at them as much as you enjoy reading them.” If I had the money (their custom libraries can cost $750 per foot), I’d redo my whole book collection to be a giant photo of Fitz. Obviously.
3. These three basic requirements to avoid gender bias in fiction:
Have you guys heard of this? I don’t know what rock I’ve been living under, but I came across this test and had to share. It’s called the Bechdel test, named after cartoonist Alison Behdel, and it asks three simple questions of a work of fiction (movies or books) to avoid being considered sexist. The work must:
- Have at least two [named] women in it,
- Who talk to each other,
- About something besides a man
Sounds simple, right? You’d be surprised! The only things I can think of that fulfill these requirements are the movie “Clue” and the book “An Object of Beauty,” which doesn’t surprise me because that book is flawless and could never do anything wrong. Those three little rules have helped me rethink and reshape some of my own novel, and shamed me a little bit in how much I’ve fallen prey to the traditional gender roles so common in fiction.
4. This perfect line from “The Little Friend”:
“…a mysterious longing had possessed her, a desire to travel far and do great things; and though she could not say exactly what it was she wanted to do, she knew that it was something grand and gloomy and extremely difficult.”
Sometimes you read something so perfect, it begs to be remembered. I’m still not a fan of “The Goldfinch,” –I’ve read it twice now– but there’s no denying Tartt possesses a great talent for language. “Grand and gloomy and extremely difficult.” Oof.
5. This visually stunning video of Paris & New York, side by side:
I’m not just saying this because I’m obsessed with Paris, but there really is no competition between the two cities. If anything, I’d love to see a comparison video of Paris and Philadelphia, which is a far lovelier city than NYC. In unsurprising news, I was able to identify every single street and landmark on the Paris side of the video, because my brain is basically a Paris Encyclopedia. (I’m also a sucker for a good time-lapse video with delightfully cheery music.) Thanks to my brother for sending me this!
1. This hilarious commercial for…well, I’ll let you watch & figure it out:
I don’t know what made me think of this again after all this time, but the first time I saw this on tv in Paris I laughed out loud. There are several variations on the theme and all are equally brilliant. This is one of the best marketing campaigns I’ve ever seen (though it doesn’t make me want to buy the product, so maybe I should say it is the most entertaining, rather than the best).
2. This beautifully symmetrical photography project:
French architect Gilles Alonso has been traveling around France taking photos of famous, grand, and even simple theaters from center stage. There’s something eerie and yet satisfyingly balanced about these photos that I find just captivating. And I can’t be the only one picking up major Phantom of the Opera vibes from these, can I? Thanks to my brother for sending me this!
3. This fantastic, futuristic clock:
For someone for whom it takes just a half-beat longer to read a face clock than normal (I’m pretty sure I was absent the day we learned this in Kindergarten), the QlockTwo is the answer to my prayers. Minute hands, seconds hands, forget it; blame it on the digital age we live in. Words, however, I can understand, and QlockTwo literally spells out the time in complete sentences, turning time “into a statement.” QlockTwo is 17″ square, can be wall-mounted or free-standing, and comes in a variety of colors, which adhere to the solid wood base with magnets. It doesn’t hurt that it’s typographically stunning, either. At nearly €1500, however, it is also prohibitively expensive.
4. This spot-on illustration from my favorite Tom Gauld:
We’ve all been there, haven’t we? I love everything Tom Gauld creates.
5. This reflection of a still-unsolved museum heist:
Keith Meyers/The New York Times
On March 18th, it will have been 25 years since two thieves dressed as police officers broke into the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, bound and gagged two guards in the basement, and “for 81 minutes, brazenly and clumsily cut two Rembrandts from their frames, smashed glass cases holding other works, and made off with a valuable yet oddball haul” including several Degas sketches, Vermeer’s “Concert,” Manet’s “Chez Tortoni. In the intervening quarter century, the paintings have yet to be recovered, and the frames still hang empty on the walls at the museum. This article from the NYTimes details the case –including new (to me) information about paint-chip samples sent anonymously to the FBI for testing, an alleged sighting of one of the Rembrandt’s in a warehouse, and about a hundred possible suspects and leads– and reads more like my type of thrilling fiction than the sad, strange reality it is. Definitely worth a read over the weekend if you love a good art heist.
Speaking of art heists, I have one to share with you on Monday. What are you up to this weekend, kiddos? My mom’s birthday is Sunday and my best friend returned from a whirlwind trip to Italy, so I will be brunching at Parc…twice in two days. What more could I possibly want?
1. This delightfully (intentionally) retro music video from Stromae:
If you can watch this video and not end up charmed and dancing happily in your seat, I pity you. Filmed on an old VHS-loaded camcorder in Cape Verde, set in an indeterminate decade, at what appears to be an afternoon cocktail party, the camera follows (changing hands and perspectives!) everyone from children to the waitstaff to the cooks taking smoke breaks and people on the dance floor. Everyone except for Stromae himself. It is a wonderfully conceived and smartly executed concept for a music video, and it leaves me beaming every time I watch it.
2. And, on a related note, Stromae’s new-to-me clothing capsule collection:
The quirkiness cannot be overstated. I only lament that the line is not available in the states, and that the socks (adorable!) are €17.
3. Paranoid Parrot!
There was a time a few years ago when I had one of these Paranoid Parrot memes taped to my monitor at work: “Make one tiny mistake at work, assume I’m getting fired.” It sort of became my “thing” in the office, how paranoid I was about getting fired; I interpreted any conversation that occurred behind closed doors or in hushed tones as one of my impending dismissal. Thankfully, I got past it (likely when my boss held my job for me while I took a two month hiatus in Paris), until this past Tuesday, when I couldn’t immediately log into our company SharePoint site. I’d sloppily mistyped my password, but for a brief moment, I had a full-on Paranoid Parrot melt down. SO THIS IS HOW THEY FIRE ME. Some of them are hilariously accurate!
4. This SNL skit from last weekend that I’ve been laughing about ever since:
SNL has been so hit or miss the past few years (dare I say decades?), and hit its peak for me during the Andy Samberg era. I haven’t even watched the show for a few years, mostly because staying awake until 11:30 (even on a Saturday!) is outside the scope of my abilities, but I happily caught last week’s episode and, in particular, this sketch. It seems like an obvious “Shawshank Redemption” spoof, until you get to the reason he’s in jail. “One man.” Seriously, try not to laugh.
5. Finally joining the ranks of women who swear by eyelash curlers:
I bought an eyelash curler on sale at Sephora, and ladies, I am hooked. I’m not exactly a “makeup girl”; yes, I wear mascara and blush, but I can’t blend eyeshadow or figure out airbrush foundation, and in general, my makeup routine takes about three minutes. The idea of adding tools and gadgets to my makeup bag seemed foreign and unnecessary. And then one of my best friends got married and as we were getting ready that morning, her sister-in-law kept espousing the virtues of what, truthfully, looks like a modern day torture device. I’m supposed to put that thing near my eye? But damn if it doesn’t make a noticeable difference, especially in the morning, when I could use a little oomph to fight off the sleep still lingering in my face.
1. Charlie Hebdo, Before the Massacre:
In French class this week we discussed the Charlie Hebdo attacks, and our teacher, Rachel, had a copy of the latest issue of the satirical magazine for us to read. It’s hard enough to find the words in English to describe the atrocity of the shootings and the anguish that followed, let alone in French. But we tried, even if as much I could say was, “C’est insupportable, que la liberté d’expression a été attaqué.” Rachel showed us this New York Times Op-Doc of the Charlie Hebdo headquarters during a production meeting in 2006. To say it was difficult to see the cartoonists and editors drawing, discussing, and choosing a cover illustration featuring the prophet Muhammed, unaware of the fate that would befall them and their beloved magazine both five years later, when their offices were firebombed, as well as two weeks ago, would be to cheapen the very acute sense of loss. “We laugh at everything. This is what we do. No subject is off-limits…We are lucky. France is a paradise,” Georges Wolinski says in the video.
2. An Infographic showing the age famous authors published their first book:
According to this wildly fascinating infographic, I’m either a few years late at publishing my first novel (Kerouac was 21!) or I have plenty of time ahead of me (Jane Austen published “Sense and Sensibility” at 37!). Also interesting, F. Scott Fitzgerald only published four books in his lifetime (and one posthumously) while Nora Roberts has published over 200, giving stock to the age-old “Quality over quantity” adage.
3. “A Museum in England Is Hiding a Forgery Among Its Masterpieces”
In a move that is sure to spark a conversation about how we value and valuate art, the Dulwich Picture Gallery in London is placing a £120 forgery amongst its collection of Rubens, Rembrandt, and Poussin, and leaving it up to visitors to solve the mystery. Part of an exhibition titled, “Made in China: A Doug Fishbone Project,” set to open in February, Fishbone commissioned a replica from a Chinese company that exists solely to churn out copies of great works. He says hanging the replica in the world’s first purpose-built public art gallery “gives our [replica] some provenance, and it’s interesting to see if that changes its value.” While the artist is quick to say this is not a cheap “spot the fake” stunt, the museum might sell “I Failed to Spot the Replica” t-shirts. Because as my father always said, every good cultural experience must end in a retail experience.
Thanks to Samantha for the link!
4. “Qu’est-ce qu’on a fait au bon Dieu?” (“What did we do to God?”)
Also from French class, the preview for this movie had us in (much-needed) hysterics. A stuffy, not-so-mildly racist French couple with four daughters and four “undesirable” sons-in-law. Deemed too politically incorrect for the US by some film critics, the movie doesn’t make fun of the interracial marriages, but rather makes fun of the conservative, “old French” parents, and uses humor to have a more serious discourse on an “I’m not racist, but…” culture in France. At least, that’s what I think Rachel was saying.
5. Charles Marville, the Photographer of Paris:
For Christmas, Jamal bought me the Metropolitan Museum of Art catalog from last year’s exhibition of Charles Marville’s photography of Paris. I didn’t get to see the show when it was at the Met or the National Gallery in DC, so I’ve been eagerly awaiting getting my hands on a copy of the exhibition catalog. It was backordered until after the new year, and it just arrived this week. I have been pouring over it nightly since. The book is a behemoth, at over 250 pages and almost 5lbs, with hundreds of Marville’s photographs of Paris in the mid-1800s reprinted with striking clarity. I can’t tell you how incredible it is to see the wide avenues, some still under construction, completely empty, void of people and carriages. It is an absolute gem.
Five Paris photos to wrap up this week:
I didn’t have the confidence to tackle the Velib bike-sharing program while I was there –my last two experiences on a bicycle ended in paralyzing muscle pain and sunburn, and giving my father two broken ribs on Father’s Day twenty years ago– but while I might have been trepidatious, Parisians certainly aren’t.
My dad always carried this exact set! I walked by the window of this famous art supply store on the Quai Voltaire and stopped in my tracks. My dad had a way of popping up throughout my time there in subtle, sweet ways.
You can’t take photographs inside the Impressionist wing at the Musée d’Orsay, but the balcony on that floor affords some striking opportunities. I could almost see my apartment!
Annie said these gardens reminded her of “Alice in Wonderland” and I can absolutely see why. “We’re painting the roses red!”
Jamal and I left La Bascule one evening while he was visiting and were both struck silent upon seeing how the sunset was blanketing the neighborhood. I miss this street, and Montmartre, and Paris, so much.
If you’re in Philadelphia tonight, be on the lookout for a group of 20something ladies galavanting around town, ostensibly loud and tipsy and definitely well-dressed: it’s my Bachelorette Party this evening! I don’t know any of the details, as my bridesmaids and friends have been frustratingly silent on specifics; I was told to be ready at 6pm, but not where I’m going or what I’m doing or whether or not there will be penis-shaped decorations involved. I’m pretty uninterested in all the usual fanfare that comes with being a bride, but this one of those necessary rites of passage and I know that being surrounded by my best friends for the epitome of a Girl’s Night I’m guaranteed to have a good time. I trust them! Except when they make jokes about wearing matching bedazzled Juicy Couture sweatsuits and buying a game called “Pin the Junk on the Hunk.” I’ve threatened ex-communication if one of them even comes at me with a sash that says “BRIDE 2 BE” on it. Hashtag pray for me.
For my first Friday Five since before I left for Paris, I decided to round-up five miscellaneous happy photographs from the trip that didn’t really fit with any other posts. On y va!
Not that I mind the rain (what’s the quote from “Midnight in Paris?”, she asks as if she doesn’t have the entire movie memorized: “Actually, Paris is most beautiful in the rain.” And it’s SO TRUE) but a rainbow at the end of the storm, and right over my apartment, isn’t half bad, either.
Because we know how much I love birds in Saint-Germain shop windows.
Maybe I’m weird for taking my makeup off one night in May and upon seeing the cotton round immediately running to take a photo instead of, you know, finishing washing my face, but this was really neat looking. And it reminds me that I have to write a post on my favorite French pharmacy products, including the amazing makeup remover that made this moment happen. One dab, and everything comes off.
Because BREAD, that’s why. What I wouldn’t give for some alone time with that pile of baguettes…
I know Père Lachaise cemetery in the 19eme gets the most tourist traffic, being home to Jim Morrison, Oscar Wilde, Édith Piaf, and Frédéric Chopin’s graves, but the Montmartre cemetery has its own charms, too. For a cemetery. It’s eerily quiet in there, despite being bisected by Rue Caulaincourt overhead, and feels like it goes on forever. And there are cats! I spent a long morning walking around and exploring, but this was the only photo I captured. There were a few tombstones with Jewish stars on them, with birth dates in the 1910s and 20s, and deaths in the 70s and 80s. Which means that, as French Jews, they lived through WWII. There was something very powerful about seeing that. There was another, that I meant to write down to look up later but didn’t, where a mother died the same day as her young son in the military in the late 1800s. Suicide from grief? Eerie coincidence? I wish I knew the story there. Next time I visit, I’ll go back and find out.
What are you guys up to this weekend? Saturday we’re participating in our third annual scavenger hunt organized by one of Jamal’s best friends (and groomsman!), and Sunday my mom is throwing me an un-bridal bridal shower. No gifts, no hats made out of bows and ribbons, nada. I did mention I’m anti-bride, right? Have a good one, kiddos!
This will be my last Friday Five for a while, because it’s my last Friday before I leave for Paris. !!! C’est incroyable! Who knows what my posting schedule will be like once I get there; I’m not making any promises or commitments beyond writing (offline) every day, no excuses, walking down to the Seine (at least) every day, rain or shine, and subsisting on as much good, stinky cheese as is humanly possible. If I can’t pull a Friday Five together on the regular, you’ll forgive me, oui? I promise to make it up to you in as many photographs of Paris as you can stand.
Let’s get right to it. Here are my top five picks for this week:
1. Amazon’s “Smile” program:
I just found out about this program and I had to share it with you: every time you shop at Amazon (and who doesn’t shop at Amazon?), start at smile.amazon.com and Amazon will donate .5% of every purchase you make to a charity of your choice. They give you a few popular options up front, like the Red Cross, Charity: Water, etc., but also the ability to search for a specific organization. I chose Programs Employing People, a local non-profit that helps adults with mental and physical handicaps with vocational skills and job training. It’s near and dear to my heart, and a cause that I support regularly anyway. .5% doesn’t sound like a lot, sure, but considering you don’t have to do anything other than start at a different url and shop as you normally would? Think about how much good you could do at the holidays!
2. This beautiful passage, from “Einstein’s Dreams” by Alan Lightman:
“In another house, a man sits alone at his table, laid out for two. Ten years ago, he sat here across from his father, was unable to say that he loved him, searched through the years of his childhood for some moment of closeness, remembered the evenings that silent man sat alone with his book, was unable to say that he loved him, was unable to say that he loved him. The table is set with two plates, two glasses, two forks, as on that last night. The man begins to eat, cannot eat, weeps uncontrollably. He never said that he loved him…The tragedy of this world is that no one is happy, whether stuck in a time of pain or of joy. The tragedy of this world is that everyone is alone.”
It stopped me in my tracks as I read it on the bus, and my only recourse was to put the book in my lap and stare out the window. Sometimes a book can strike you like that. (It helps that this book was my dad’s).
3. Speaking of books…
I’m on track to hit my goal of reading 30 books this year! I should finish “Einstein’s Dreams” this afternoon on the bus home, which will get me to 15 so far. I don’t know how much reading I’ll get done in Paris (though I am bringing a few books with me) so I wanted to front-load as much as I can. Who knows, maybe I’ll be reading French language books while I’m over there (ha!).
4. This adorable (if I do say so myself) photograph:
Taken in the hotel elevator on our trip to Paris (and Belgium) in 2012, only recently rediscovered. Please disregard our appearance (my hair! what?!), we had just arrived after flying all night to Brussels and taking a train to Gare du Nord. Oh, Jamal, what am I going to do without you for so long?! Sure, we’ve had plenty of practice, what with his four or five trips per year to India, but he swears it’s different because this time I’m the one leaving. He’s coming to visit me at the end of May, and I think I can keep myself occupied until then (hint: baguettes. oh, and writing!).
5. This Unreal, Luxurious Apartment in Paris:
A coworker happened to see the listing for this apartment near the Arc de Triomphe open on my computer and said, “So that’s where you’re staying in Paris, right?” We laughed. I said, “Who lives like this?” She paused, gave it some serious thought, and finally said, “Beyoncé.” For nearly $4.5 million dollars, this is certainly a Beyoncé-worthy abode. (That skylight!!)
What are you up to this weekend? My brother is having a birthday party tomorrow, and I’m having lunch with my best friend on Sunday. Make it a good one, kiddos!
I know there’s an old rule in writing that you’re never supposed to lead with the weather, but can we talk about how glorious the weather has been this week? Mid 60s, blue skies, just the right amount of wind. Spring has certainly, finally, sprung, and while it’s supposed to rain all day today, my mood is irreversibly buoyed by having been able to wear ballet flats to work this week without catching frostbite, thus displaying my blindingly pale cankles for the first time in months. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still winter’s biggest champion, but it’s hard not to love spring weather.
Herewith, my top five things this week:
1. The answer Gary Oldman gave to the question, “What is your guilty pleasure?”
And the beautiful soul who made it into a gif (his face!).
2. The new blog layout I’ve been working on:
But you’ll have to wait until Monday to see it! Such a tease, I know. It will be worth the wait.
3. This well-timed, eerily accurate fortune cookie fortune:
I had dinner with my brother, sister-in-law, and nieces over the weekend, and I opened my fortune cookie to this little gem. I generally don’t give much weight to fortunes, and I wouldn’t necessarily consider going to Paris to write a novel “exotic,” but this one was too perfect not to share.
4. This wonderfully weird Google Earth screencap:
YOU RAN HIM OVER. This was taken in Parc Monceau, just like this bizarre one, convincing me whoever was in charge of the camera that day must have been high.
5. The new “No Work After 6pm” rule French unions just enacted:
Not only do the French enjoy a 35 hour work week, 6+ weeks of paid vacation per year, and, you know, life in France in general, French unions this week “signed a new, legally binding labour agreement that will require staff to switch off their phones after 6pm.” No work emails, no work texts, no work after 6pm. The unions believe there should be as little intrusion to the private lives of workers as possible, which means that “companies must ensure that their employees come under no pressure” to work after you leave the office. Considering I live with someone that takes work calls at 11 at night and 7 in the morning, this is a rule I’d love to adopt here. (Thanks to my friend Audrey for sending me this story!)
What are you up to this weekend, kiddos? I will be packing, and I’m so excited about it. I already did a test run a few months ago, true story, to make sure I could bring everything, cross-referencing the piles of folded clothes with one of the 345694262413 lists I’ve made. This time I’m making it official by bringing out the suitcases. 19 days!
This post is brought to you by Zombie Erin. Regular Erin was unable to come to the blog today, because she is exhausted. Don’t worry, she’ll be back to normal after she catches up on the roughly 30 hours of sleep she was robbed of this week. If I’ve been a bit MIA around your blogs this week, forgive me kiddos! I’ve been burning the candle at both ends.
Let’s get right to it:
1. The Veronica Mars movie!
Yes, I know I just raved about it oh, three days ago, but my love for this show has only grown more intense since then. And the movie comes out TODAY! I actually caught the trailer on tv last night and I squealed a little bit. No one ruin it for me, I’m waiting until I finish all 64 episodes before I see it, and with Jamal coming home tomorrow night (!! finally) my binge-watching habits will be cut short. Do you guys think I could get him into it? He might be charmed by Veronica’s quick wit and Logan’s pouty, yummy lips — I mean…
2. These adorable hair ties from Loft:
Here’s a fun fact: I only have two credit cards, and one of them is a Loft store card. My entire wardrobe is from this store, and thanks to their generous sales, coupons, and credit card reward perks, I often walk away from the register feeling like I’ve robbed them (I once got a $98 dress, a $34 cardigan, and a $30 dress for…wait for it…$43 TOTAL, thanks to coupons and a sale). These hair ties were an impulse buy (I never wear my hair back except when I’m washing my face at night) but can you blame me? Polka dots!
3. This unexpected Google Earth option:
You can go inside the Musée l’Orangerie. What?? How? This has taken my Paris “visits” to a whole new level. Pardon me while I Google-Earth my way through every single building (museum or otherwise) in Paris.
4. This gorgeous Parisian apartment:
Just when I think there is a shortage of classically Haussmann apartments for sale, I stumble upon a treasure like this one that makes me wish I was secretly the heiress to a bazillion dollar fortune or the next J.K. Rowling. For those herringbone floors I would even consider being the author of Fifty Shades of Gray, artistic integrity be damned!
5. This frenetic interview with Sarah Jessica Parker (and a sneak-peek home tour):
While I would prefer to watch the video on mute (the interviewer’s voice and faux-spontaneity are grating — it’s rehearsed, dude, the jig is up) it’s pretty neat to see inside SJP’s New York brownstone. The light-up globes in the den, the giant windows, a ping pong table in the living room, the walls of books? Such a refreshing change from the totally soulless, staged homes you see in design magazines. Her home is lived in and eclectic, and fittingly reminded me of a grown-up Carrie Bradshaw.
What are you up to this weekend? I’m heading to the museum today and then to lunch at my favorite diner, to soak up my last few days “living solo,” haha. Make it a good one, kiddos!