Category Archives: life / dog

My Dad in Paris

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I made mention in this post about the ways in which my dad, unsurprisingly, showed up around Paris while I was there. His love of the city (and all things French) was something we had very much in common –along with turtlenecks, neutral colored clothing, quiet time, and stinky cheese. Finding photos from his trip in the 90s was one of the greatest joys of my life to date; reliving the city through his eyes was the next best thing to getting to go there with him one day, something that we never got to share and will forever break my heart.

But he still had his ways of letting me know he was there with me on this trip. Here are stories behind just two: Continue reading

August 6, 2014 / art / photo / life / dog / Paris / travel / LEAVE A COMMENT / 34

So About That Novel…

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I have been writing this novel now since somewhere around August of 2012. (Pause here for wide-eyed disbelief that time moves so terrifyingly quickly.) To recap: a private sales representative steals 14 paintings from Sotheby’s in Paris, and the story unfolds around each painting, focusing on the relationship between four main characters. (I think. Fourteen is proving to be a lot of paintings). Between August of 2012 and April 2014, before I left for Paris, I had managed to write roughly 44k words, making slow but steady progress, mostly on Sundays, the only day of the week I really had to devote to the task. 87 weeks, 44k. In the eight weeks I spent in Paris, where I had every day of the week at my disposal –every day was Sunday!–I wrote another 30k. My goal going into this trip was to double my word count, and I might well have, had I not slacked off near the end of June. There were certain days that were devoted entirely to doing anything and everything except writing, like walking and eating and reading and museum-hopping, a fact for which I will not feel guilty, I will not feel guilty, I will not feel guilty. A combination of PERFECT weather and the siren call of those charming Parisian streets and the smell of delicious bread products wafting from literally every direction everywhere I went all the time ohmygodgivemeabaguette, made it nearly impossible to sit inside at my desk. So I’d take my notebook and head out, and often I never pulled it out of my bag. “I’ll write tomorrow!” turned into “I’ll write when it’s rainy and I don’t mind staying in!” which meant that the three straight weeks of glorious, mid-60s temperatures and clear blue skies Paris had in June saw little to no pen-to-paper or fingers-to-keyboard action.

One more time, with feeling: I will not feel guilty.

Could I have pushed myself to write more? Of course. I could’ve locked myself in my apartment and not gone to Ladurée, like, fifteen times. But sometimes finding a balance doesn’t mean that everything gets an equal share. The balance that worked for me towards the end skewed less in favor or writing, and more in favor of soaking up Paris. And while I might not have been as diligent as I was for the first half of the trip with writing substantial amounts every single day, I know for a fact that Paris worked its magic on me and that the trip was (of course) a success. Seeing the street where my main character lives, attending auctions at Sotheby’s, absorbing the specific sounds and rhythms of daily life in Paris –what the call button on the bus sounds like, the rip of paper at the fromagerie as they wrap up a block of cheese, the throaty way they pronounce their ‘r’s–and playing Anthropologist and observing Parisians in their natural habitat was integral to the writing process. I wasn’t just eating all of the buttery carbs the city had to offer, I was eating all of the buttery carbs the city had to offer in the name of book research.

But in all seriousness, the novel is taking shape; a new shape, in some parts, but it’s all making sense and I think I am in a really good spot now going forward. The entire process is so beautiful, was even more beautiful in, and because of, Paris. I’ve relaxed into the story in much the same way I relaxed into Paris. I’m excited to keep writing with those eight weeks under my belt, because I know that experience isn’t even close to done giving me inspiration and direction yet.

Mostly, I want to give myself a little pat on the back for writing 75k words. I’ve never written that much on the same project or story, and it feels momentous. It feels real.

July 2, 2014 / life / dog / LEAVE A COMMENT / 24

Friday Five

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?” 

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And the beautiful soul who made it into a gif (his face!).

2. The new blog layout I’ve been working on:

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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:

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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:

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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:

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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!

April 11, 2014 / Friday Five / Gary Oldman / life / dog / Paris / travel / LEAVE A COMMENT / 20

I’m Moving to Paris!

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You read that right, though maybe I’m overstating the “move” aspect, as it implies permanency. I will be spending two months (eight weeks! 61 days!) in Paris! PARIS! I leave April 30th (hence the countdown!) and fly home June 30th. I’ve been bursting at the seams wanting to tell you guys, the excitement has been just overwhelming. I might have slipped and told a few of you last year, but who knows if you believed me because when am I not threatening to move to Paris? This time it’s real. This is not a drill.

I’m sure you have a ton of questions, so let me see if I can head them off:

Continue reading

April 4, 2014 / life / dog / Paris / travel / LEAVE A COMMENT / 54

I’ve Got a Secret

I’ve made reference several times now about this year having big things in store for me, and while I hate to be even more intentionally vague than I’ve been already, well, I’m going to (but only for a little while longer!). If you follow me on Twitter (are you following me on Twitter? I promise I don’t post about Ace of Base too frequently) you might have noticed a strange occurrence over the past few months:

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Oooh, how mysterious!

Good news: I promise to reveal everything this Friday, and those cryptic tweets will be explained when I do. In the meantime, assuming you want to play along, I’d love to hear your guesses: What am I counting down to? Am I eloping with Gary Oldman? Opening a Philadelphia franchise of Ladurée? Revealing a publishing contract? Go wild with conjecture, kiddos.

PS. Those of you that know already, don’t spoil it for everyone else (Mom)!

PPS. No, this isn’t a belated April Fool’s joke.

PPPS. No, I’m not pregnant.

April 2, 2014 / life / dog / LEAVE A COMMENT / 15

New Macbook

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Everyone say hello to the newest addition to the like / want / need family! I have named her Wanda, after “A Fish Called Wanda,” because it was the the movie I watched as I was setting her up, installing programs, and transferring all of my files and photos off my external hard drive. A Macbook called Wanda, if you will. Have you seen that movie? It’s one of my all time favorites, and I almost dropped Macbook Wanda off my lap from laughing so hard at the tv, oops.

I traded in my white Macbook to a local Apple dealer and, combined with my government employee discount, walked out of the door with a brand new Macbook Pro for under $700. I probably could have used my old Macbook for another year or so without an issue, but it was starting to act slow when I worked in Photoshop or had too many tabs open online (story of my life). Better to trade it in while it still had some value, right? Weirdly, the iMac i bought in 2008 still runs like a champion, and while I thought about trading that one in too towards the cost of Wanda, my anxiety got the better of me and I figured it was better to have a backup computer in the house (it’s where I do most of my writing anyway) in addition to my external hard drive (and the cloud drive where I back my writing progress up — I have a triple redundancy system going; if I were ever to lose this novel I would drop dead).

Hooray technology!

March 31, 2014 / life / dog / LEAVE A COMMENT / 22

Love You, Fitzy

Daylight Savings Time has been really rough around here. Waking up when it’s still dark outside wouldn’t really bother me (I’m part vampire, after all) but I’ve been stuck in full-day meetings this week that all have ungodly early start times, meaning I’m up and out the door well before 7am — practically the middle of the night. I watched the sunrise from the bus yesterday before proceeding to sit in a windowless conference room for nine hours (that last part is not Daylight Savings’ fault, but I figured I’d get all my complaints out of the way). Fitz doesn’t even stir when my alarm goes off, but I can feel him grumbling at me in his head. Dude loves his sleep. Once, I turned the bedroom light on after coming back in from the bathroom, and he actually squeezed his eyes shut and buried his head under his pillow, I kid you not.

The only upside to this whole time-change situation has been the afternoon sunlight we’ve been getting. I know I grouse every year about setting the clocks forward or back (and I’m still not confident I have a firm grasp on the entire enterprise; WHERE DOES THE HOUR GO?), but man, coming home at 5pm and getting to open a window and have an impromptu photoshoot with your dog? Don’t mind if I do!

(The only editing I did to these was resizing)

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The house is usually a black hole with no natural sunlight, and the only time I get to enjoy daylight hours are on the weekends. Well, not anymore! Okay, Daylight Savings, you win this one. From these photos, one might assume that Fitz enjoys or even tolerates having his picture taken. Before you go too far operating under that assumption:

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The SASS. Clearly he is my dog.

March 13, 2014 / life / dog / LEAVE A COMMENT / 20

One Year Ago…

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Exactly one year ago this week, I was on my way to Paris. We flew out on Thursday and arrived on Friday, and as the plane touched down on French soil I burst into tears. I had worked myself up so much for that trip, and though it had only been nine or ten months since my last trip to Paris, I was hungry for the city, the energy, the language, the food in ways that were overwhelming. Can you say ‘dramatique‘?

However much of a cliché it might be, my love for Paris is unquantifiable and all-consuming (exhibit A: my entire blog). It was passed onto me genetically, and though I might have fought it when I was an angsty teenager, if you know me at all you know that “Francophile” doesn’t even begin to cover it.

So imagine my surprise and heart-bursting joy on that trip last March, on the day we arrived no less, when my boyfriend went down on one knee in the gardens of the Musée Rodin, forever tying us together and to Paris.

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Sure, I had to break up with Gary Oldman once we got home (but I still see him sometimes on the side!), but I’d say that was a small price to pay for the perfect engagement. We still have some wedding planning to do, but we took last year just to enjoy being engaged without the pressure of picking table linens and spending all of our money. All of those details are being sorted out now, don’t you worry, and I promise to share some more soon.

I can’t believe it was a year ago! Where does the time go? Surely I’m overdue for another trip to Paris, right? A year is just too long.

March 7, 2014 / life / dog / Paris / travel / LEAVE A COMMENT / 28

Three Years

Today marks three full years since I started this blog. Three! It certainly doesn’t feel like three years, and yet I can’t really remember what I did with myself before like / want / need popped into existence on a random, dreary day in February (I probably shopped less). This blog has become my favorite creative outlet, in large part because of all of you (but especially Annie, my very first blog friend and whose birthday is today! Happy birthday, lovely girl!). Your daily comments, support, advice, laughs, and the amazing sense of community you have all given me have made this blog what it is. I know it’s cheesy, but I couldn’t do this without you. I mean, I could, but it would be sad and lonely. I much prefer having friends all over the country & world to virtually check-in on every day, and I’m so grateful to this blog for making it all possible.

To celebrate the big 3, here are 3 photos of (surprise!) Paris. What better way to honor the day?

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This is going to be an exciting year for both me & this blog. So far in 2014, I’ve taken more of a relaxed approach to posting, and have stopped beating myself up if I don’t post every single day. I have some big things in the works, but I’m curious: what do you want to see in the future? What sorts of posts do you love, which posts do you hate, what would you like to see more of? Less of? Should I devote this blog solely to photoshopping my beloved Gary Oldman into Parisian street scenes? Spill, kiddos!

PS. This is my 658th post! You can read the very first one here.

February 12, 2014 / life / dog / LEAVE A COMMENT / 31

Bad Things Come in Threes

Well! I didn’t plan on taking three days off from posting (my longest stint since 2011, and certainly the longest when I wasn’t on vacation) but then again I didn’t plan on getting the flu, either. I woke up Saturday morning with a little cough, and took my inhaler thinking it was just my usual chest tightness. By Saturday afternoon, after a probably-not-helpful-in-hindsight walk in the snow, it was clear it wasn’t going away, but that was fine, a cough is nothing. By Saturday night, I might as well have had sad game show music playing after my every movement; this was no mere cough. When I woke up Sunday morning aching all over, feeling like someone had taken a baseball bat to my back, a Cough with a capital-C, and a 102 fever, there was no denying it. The flu!

I needn’t tell you how exceedingly mopey and depressive I get when I’m sick, but oh, oh this was malaise on a whole new scale. Things hurt! I was sweaty! I shuffled back and forth between bed and the sofa, my will to live trailing sadly behind me in a flurry of used tissues. And, perhaps most disappointingly, I had been looking forward for weeks to attending an Old Masters auction on Tuesday morning that, in my weakened, near-death state, I obviously had to skip.

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It was probably for the best, because who knows what I would’ve accidentally bid on in my fevered delirium. Not that I was going to bid, I was just excited to go (book research!) and see that Edouard Manet sketch (above right, which ended up selling for $33k!) in person. To experience the exhilaration of an auction floor. Stupid influenza.

As if that wasn’t enough, our heater broke late Monday. Not that I could tell because temperatures had ceased to mean anything to me by that point, as I was alternately standing in the shower with the water as hot as it would go, shivering and with actual goosebumps on me, and then sweating through everything I slept in, my eyes boiling out of my head.

And then my debit card information was stolen, and the thief tried to charge five separate purchases of $4.95 for (wait for it) Christian bible studies ebooks. I’m not an expert in religion, but I’m pretty sure Jesus didn’t really condone stealing?  I called my bank and said, “But, but…I’M JEWISH!” I must’ve sounded insane to the poor customer service representative, and to be fair, I was. I hadn’t been vertical in days, the altitude change from having to sit up and make a phone call was jarring.

But the heater got fixed, my bank flagged the charges, and my health is on the up-swing. In fact, I’m back at work today and feeling far more human than I have in days (changing out of sweatpants might have helped). If bad things come in threes, I should be set for a while, yes?

How was your week? I’ve missed you guys!

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January 30, 2014 / life / dog / LEAVE A COMMENT / 8