Category Archives: life / dog

Four Years

Les Pivoines

Four years ago today, an unemployed, bored, and creatively-unfulfilled girl started a blog as a means of shopping-aversion therapy. “Maybe,” she thought, “if I write about all the things I like, want, or need to buy but can’t afford, I’ll exhaust my desire for them. Now, what on earth would I call such a blog?”

(It’s me. I’m talking about myself in the third person.)

Four years ago, that girl was barely eight months into a relationship with the man who would later become her husband, and she didn’t know then that she would get to document their engagement or wedding for a community of friends (both online and off). Four years ago, that struggling girl could never have known she’d one day move to Paris to write a novel; if you’d told her there was that sort of the brilliant light at the end of the tunnel, she would have scoffed, adjusted her sweatpants, and started another marathon of America’s Next Top Model, a show she, in unemployed desperation, had auditioned for just a year prior. An experience that, while amazingly rich in lols, did nothing for her bank account or resume.

Four years ago, that girl moved in with her boyfriend over the summer and together they got way in over their heads and adopted a wily, lovable, lunatic-wrapped-in-fur named Fitz. Proving that nothing really changes and also that his Prozac does nothing for him, this morning he whined at a parked car because he didn’t like the roof rack. He is, however, my most trusted editorial sounding board. “Fitz,” I’ll often say to him because who doesn’t anthropomorphize their pets, “what should Mommy blog about today?” To which he’ll roll right over and distract me with his little belly and imploring eyes.

In four years, my tastes in interiors and music haven’t changed, and neither has my Francophilia, but I’ve made an effort to expand my horizons. Four years ago I never would have dreamed I’d honeymoon in Santorini and like it (sun! not-Paris!), but I did. Correction: I loved it. (I’m expecting nothing less from Italy in a few months.)

In four years of blogging here I’ve learned a few things along the way: I’m comfortable coding in CSS now, and I’m comfortable not blogging every single day. I’ve hit the sweet spot with two or three posts per week, but it took a while to get over the initial self-imposed stress and guilt on the days when I didn’t post something. I hope you kiddos don’t mind too much; I’d rather post when I truly have something to say and feel inspired to share, rather than post for posting’s sake.

I don’t know if I have another four years of blogging in me, to be honest. In four years I’ll be 32 (WEEPING. WEEPING OPENLY.) and might even have a kiddo of my own then and lack the sufficient time or energy to craft such groundbreaking posts as Gary Oldman in Paris. Who knows. But this will always be my favorite side-project. I’ve met so many incredible, and incredibly supportive, people in the last four years, including my first ever blog friend, Annie, whose birthday is today! Happy birthday, darling! Yes, in a delightfully serendipitous twist, my first blog friend and my blog share a birthday. Annie and I have hung out in New York and Paris together, something that never would have happened if not for this blog.

Avenue de l'Opera

I’m wildly grateful for your friendship and comments here every day, you guys. Thank you for making this blog what it is. And now, if you’ll excuse me, I must go indulge myself in some macarons and 80s boyband music to celebrate.

February 12, 2015 / art / photo / life / dog / LEAVE A COMMENT / 33

Dream Job

Tea & Writing

If you could have any job in the world, what would it be?

I don’t mean something like, “doctor” or “lawyer,” actual professions you can go to school for and obtain a specified degree. I mean something zany, and overly precise, and likely non-existant, like “Museum Hanger-Outer.” You know, that dream job where you’d be paid a salary to sit in museums all day and look at paintings and think.

After watching that hours-long annual spectacle on TV yesterday, I realized there are people in this world who get to do their dream job for a living. Children with a profound enthusiasm for one particular thing can grow up and be paid to do that thing in a professional setting, paycheck and all. I’m speaking, of course, about the wondrous event that is Puppy Bowl; the producers of that show as well as the ref, I like to think, grew up believing, “One day I will get to play with adorable puppies and be paid for it.” We should all be such dreamers.

So, let’s.

What career title would you choose for yourself if the world were such a place? Ideally, I’d love to have a job where I can be paid to read books all day, maybe in a small art gallery. Gallery Bibliophile, I believe it’s called. When I was younger I would have loved to be a Space Ballerina, a job that would have combined ballet and my brief flirtation with becoming an astronaut (a track that was swiftly made unavailable to me due to my, shall we say, lack of mathematical prowess). Don’t ask me how a grande arabesque would have worked in zero gravity, but I’m sure it would have been beautiful.

Your turn.

February 2, 2015 / life / dog / LEAVE A COMMENT / 32

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.

January 7, 2015 / life / dog / LEAVE A COMMENT / 32

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.

January 2, 2015 / art / photo / life / dog / Paris / travel / LEAVE A COMMENT / 18

Goodbye, 2014

If there was ever a year I am sad to see go, it’s this one. Where do I even begin to wax nostalgic for the amazing things that happened this year?

From the top of the Arc de Triomphe

Chairs

Place Dauphine

In May, I went to Paris for eight weeks, to soak up the city, speak the language, fill two 16GB memory cards of photos, and work on my novel. I lived in Montmartre, in a charming apartment with a balcony, the view from which was the iconic red windmill of the Moulin Rouge. I ate croissants and demi-baguettes with beurre every day, spent more money on flowers and macarons than anyone should, and wrote more in those 61 days than I knew I was capable of.

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To say that coming home was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever had to do is an understatement. I almost didn’t.

But I had a wedding to come back for.

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In September, we were married on a rainy, perfect Saturday. That day feels like a million years ago, when it was really just a few short months. I haven’t even gotten my dress dry-cleaned, and we haven’t sent out all of our thank you cards (if you’re still waiting on one, I’m so sorry!). I was staunchly an anti-bride leading up to the wedding, but I wouldn’t have changed a thing about the actual day once we got there. I’d do it all again (to the same guy, of course!) just to have all our favorite people in one room.

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After the wedding it was off to Greece, where we spent a few days in Athens and a week in Santorini.

The Acropolis

Oia

Fira

I’d spent too much time in Paris (a sentence I never thought I’d say) to remember that there are other, friendlier Europeans on the continent. The Greeks are warm and inviting and our experience there made us feel so welcomed, rather than the indifference from most Parisians. We were often given free dessert once waiters realized we were on our honeymoon, a treat that goes a long way to winning me over.

Paris Print Shop

This fall I also began selling prints of my Paris photos, an endeavor that has been rewarding and fulfilling beyond my wildest imagination.

There were trips to the museum, weekly French classes (I’m in level 301 now), and through it all, I’ve been writing. Oh, and there were also plenty of cuddles with Fitz.

I don’t know what 2015 has in store, but it has a lot to live up to. I do have some surprises to share with you guys, including a very exciting trip next spring. Thank you for following along for another year. Have a wonderful (and safe!) New Year’s, kiddos!

December 31, 2014 / life / dog / LEAVE A COMMENT / 27

Joyeux Noël!

Joyeux Noel

A very merry Fitz-mas to you all! May Santa bring you everything you wanted, may you spend lots of time with your families (with only minimal yelling and emotional scarring), and may you fill up on caloric baked goods to the point where your Christmas jammies don’t fit. I’m signing off for the week to enjoy the holiday and gorge myself on cookies.

Joyeux Noël, mes amis!

December 24, 2014 / art / photo / life / dog / LEAVE A COMMENT / 7

28 Candles

Quai de Bourbon

There was a time in my blogging history here when I was posting five times a week, a feat that seems crazy and impossible to me now. I thought I’d reached a comfortable balance by posting MWF there for a while, but recently I can barely knock out two posts a week without feeling like I’m scraping the bottom of the barrel for content. Is anyone else feeling that way? I’ve noticed an overall slowing down in the blog circles I move in, and I wonder if it’s just a holiday thing (this time of year is notorious for taking a breather) or a symptom of a greater shift in blogging. Regardless, I am not as on my game as I once was, and I’ve been neglecting this space.

But I went to my eye doctor this week, and she confirmed what I’ve been feeling recently: my eyes are overworked. The feeling I have at the end of a nine hour day staring at two computer screens at work (a mix of eye strain and computer burn-out) has kept me away from my laptop when I get home. Ergo, less blogging. My eye doctor suggested I keep it up, and limit my screen time wherever possible. So I could just as easily blame my negligence on “Doctor’s orders!” but also, there has been so much going on offline that I have had less and less time for online. Holiday parties, Newsroom marathons, Monday Night Dinner Clubs, and, oh yeah, turning 28!

Tomorrow is my birthday! In recent years, or rather, every year up until age 25, I treated my birthday like a national holiday, deserving of all the fanfare and fireworks and attention as, say, Christmas, that holiday just five days after the glorious day of my birth that is always stealing my thunder and overshadowing my day and guaranteeing I end up with birthday presents wrapped in Santa-covered wrapping paper. Weirdly, everyone in my life agreed to my demands for years and years, and you can’t imagine how that shaped my perception of birthdays. Not just mine, but everyone’s. Birthdays are my favorite, and I’ll loudly follow someone around saying, “IT’S YOUR BIRTHDAY TODAY?? HAPPY BIRTHDAY! GUYS, WE HAVE A BIRTHDAY BOY.” (See: my friend Herbie, on his birthday last month).

And then I had to go and get old and suddenly the joy was just sucked out of the entire affair. Give me cake, give me presents, give me anti-wrinkle cream, but just don’t ask me how old I am. (I’m being hyperbolic, I know, considering I’m still in my 20s and people are going to give me flak for complaining.) My birthday doesn’t feel like quite the same BIG DEAL at 28 as it did at 18 (oh sweet Jesus that was 10 years ago), but I’m still going to celebrate. We’re going to Parc tomorrow and getting together with family. But it’s happening offline, and maybe it’s the wisdom that comes with my advanced age, but I’m realizing that offline is important. My fear of, “If I don’t blog about it, how will people know it happened??” has evaporated right along with my youth.

Let’s live offline, too. My eye doctor might have been on to something.

December 19, 2014 / life / dog / Paris / travel / LEAVE A COMMENT / 30

Cookie Day!

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It would be an understatement to say I look forward to Cookie Day every year the way some people do the Super Bowl. My Mommom, my aunt, and I spend a day together, baking hundreds of cookies in various Christmas-y shapes. From my post two years ago: “This is my favorite family tradition, and I look forward to her green cookies every year. My mom-mom is probably my favorite person on earth. She’s so sassy.” Nothing about that statement has changed!

Growing up, these cookies appeared at Christmas for me to devour, without an understanding of how much work goes into making them. And then a few years ago, I started helping. My Mommom makes the dough a day or two in advance of Cookie Day, and then the three of us spend a day baking them. Tradition dictates that we first have a big diner breakfast, to fortify ourselves for the long day of standing at an assembly line like little elves: someone stamps the cookies onto the baking sheets (using a cookie press), someone decorates, and someone monitors the oven, rotating sheets and putting the cookies on a cooling rack. We listen to Christmas music while we stamp out little green Christmas trees and little red wreaths.

Oh, did I mention we’re Jewish?

We love Christmas, but more specifically, we love cookies. Even more specifically, I love these green cookies. Sure, nothing about them is remotely healthy (I like to picture my insides turning green when I eat them, which is a likely consequence considering your tongue actually does if you eat enough in one sitting) but since when are the holidays about moderation?

Christmas Butter Cookies (or Mommom’s Green Trees)

1/2 lb. softened butter
3oz. cream cheese
1 1/2 c. sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 1/2 c. sifted flour
Food coloring

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Beat butter until whipped. Add cream cheese and beat until smooth. Mix while adding sugar. Blend egg and vanilla.
3. Add food coloring if desired (pretty much mandatory).
4. Slowly add flour, with mixer on lower speed.
5. Use cookie press and decorate.
6. Bake 10 min, until bottoms are light brown.

Enjoy, kiddos!

December 15, 2014 / eat / drink / life / dog / LEAVE A COMMENT / 12

A Birthday

Pont du Carrousel, nuit

I.

I bought a men’s sweater at Uniqlo over the weekend, an unfussy, slightly shapeless black wool button down number. I’ve been searching for one for a while now, for a go-to, grandpa sweater I could wear daily and actually keep warm in, as opposed to the sparkly, open-weave, ‘fashion sweaters’ women’s stores seem to be pushing these days. My favorite sweater is one of my dad’s, a dark green pull-over that somehow still retains the warm, musky smell of him. I try not to wear it too often, because I don’t want the smell to disappear, to wear off. It’s a comforting olfactory thing.

Today would have been his 76th birthday.

There are things you lose after eight years –the specific hum of his voice, the way he’d mindlessly stroke his mustache with his thumb and middle finger– and things you give up voluntarily; I can’t listen to more than the opening chords of Charlie Haden’s “American Dreams” without dissolving into tears, like some instantaneous chemical reaction. But there are things I’m fighting to keep, too, like the smell of his sweater, his love of Paris, and the solace of knowing that I am half of him.

II.

The year I was eight, he was 56, and that number popped up everywhere for us. On street signs, on register receipts, and, once, as the name of a production company on the opening credits of a Riverdance VHS tape I had specifically asked for at Christmas (let’s not talk about that). We were laying on the sofa together, the VCR remote in his hand, and “A 56th Street Production” appeared on the screen, on top of a swirl of coral and blue tones.

“Oh look,” he said. “There’s my number again.”

That was 20 years ago, and it feels as vivid as if it were just two.

III.

I’m wearing a black turtleneck, my new black sweater, and my dad’s watch, today, and having lunch with my brother. And I’m debating booking an impromptu trip to Paris in February, because I know my dad would have encouraged it.

Happy, happy birthday, daddy.

December 9, 2014 / life / dog / LEAVE A COMMENT / 14

Good Advice

A few weeks ago, over drinks in a dark, downstairs bar, I asked Jamal, my newly minted husband, how he would feel about having a Write at Home Wife. It’s sort of like a Stay at Home Wife, only I’d be devoting myself to writing. I haven’t written anything substantial since Paris, a fact that is simultaneously depressing and incomprehensible. I felt the happiest, most alive, most fulfilled those eight weeks in Paris, because I was writing every single day. That was my job. Surely Paris was only part of the magic, and if I chose to make writing my full-time focus here, I’d find myself as productive and contented as I had been there. Or at least more satisfied than my current 9-5 situation, without question.

But I asked his opinion because I’m told that’s what you do in a marriage, and because, truthfully, a part of me is concerned about how it would look to other people. Girl marries older, successful career man, immediately quits job to stay home (and write). Jamal’s friends’ wives are doctors, lawyers, PhD holders. My own friends are no less impressive; two of my best friends are nurses, one keeps people alive after furious gunshot wounds, the other delivers babies into the world. Another jets off to Prague and Buenos Aires, assisting on commercial shoots for a major ad agency. My own mother earned her Masters Degree while shuttling me back and forth to school and ballet class. Isn’t it lazy to stay home? Wouldn’t it appear opportunistic to let my husband provide for me while I sit at my desk and nurture my inner Hemingway? Isn’t this so typically millennial of me, needing to feel wholly indulged in what makes me happy? I have nearly a year’s salary in my savings account (the idea of spending Jamal’s money makes me too uncomfortable), but isn’t the feeling of needing to justify my choice with some financial fact wrong in some way, too?

I asked Jamal, as we stirred our speakeasy cocktails with unpronounceable ingredients, “And what happens when I finish this novel? What then?”

“Then you write another one,” he said, thus affirming every decision I’d made to this point in my life with regards to his place in it.

But really, what happens then? What happens if I finish this novel, if I take a year and make writing my full-time job, and nothing comes of it? Do I write another one? And another? And if none of these manuscripts see the light of day, what do I have to show for my time? For my life? Am I still a writer if the only thing it achieves is making me feel fulfilled?

So when I came across this Ask Polly feature in New York Magazine’s The Cut, it hit so close to home I almost could have written the question myself. A woman, an artist, in her early thirties, is struggling with devoting herself to her art without feeling guilty. She writes, “My husband makes the living, but I would like to carry some weight. Am I just a shameful lazy bum who wants the world to carry me so I can be an Artiste? I want to create art, but I want to be socially accepted as well, as more than a dreamer.”

Ding ding ding.

The advice “Polly” gives is so poignant, so encouraging, that I’ve been coming back to the article near daily, just to feel reaffirmed. I haven’t made a decision yet, and I’m still plugging away at my desk job, with the slow burn of my novel somewhere in the background. At some point, this balance will change. But damn am I grateful for these words:

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December 4, 2014 / life / dog / read / watch / LEAVE A COMMENT / 36