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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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!
You might have heard about the blizzard that blanketed much of the northeast yesterday. It sort of came out of nowhere, with news stations only alerting us to the impending snow on Monday. Early predictions were for about 4-6″ (lolz, no) for Philadelphia, beginning late Tuesday. But then it started snowing at 10am yesterday, and was coming down so hard and fast it looked like rain. And it didn’t quit. It snowed for almost 18 hours in total, well into the middle of the night, giving us about a foot of accumulation and a snow day! I’m working from home today (along with the rest of the city) and that can only mean one thing: sweatpants.
I love you, winter.
Somewhere around six months in to the time that I’ve been writing this novel of mine (since September 2012, according to my earliest saved document on my computer. Oh my god time flies! What the hell!) I came to realize that it is completely unmanageable to me to approach it as: WRITE THE ENTIRE NOVEL IN ONE SITTING OKAY GO. Rome wasn’t built in a day, good things come to those who wait, a watched pot never boils (does that one apply?), etc etc etc. Patience is a virtue at which I’ve never been particularly adept, so the intense frustration at not being able to make words appear on the page as quickly as I wanted them to was counteracting all of my forward progress and was especially discouraging. That, on top of the already daunting task of pulling an entire novel from the depths of my brain. So, you know, I totally understand why writers are depicted as tortured souls a lot of the time. And alcoholics. (Gin!)
But I’ve been setting little milestones for myself, little tangible goals to work towards and cross off (or accidentally light on fire…) so as not to get overwhelmed. The idea came from this Instagram photo from Kate back in November 2012. It was so simple and yet so genius and completely changed the way I approached writing this novel: set a goal, a number. Suddenly it wasn’t about writing an entire book, writing 100k, it was about writing small, manageable chunks at a time. My brain could focus on individual parts and small conversations and details without worrying about the bigger (scarier) picture.
I’ve made a goal to hit at least 50k by May 1st. That gives me a third of the year, four months, to write about 15k. Breaking it down, I need to write 3,750 words a month, or 938 words a week, or 134 a day. A totally realistic way to look at it, yes?. And some days I don’t write my 134, but others I may bang out 500. It evens out, but at least I’m being kept on track. I’m accountable to those little pink post-its, as nuts as it sounds.
I’m curious, how do you manage goals? Are you working towards something that seems overwhelming? When it doubt, post-its!
PS. There’s a new link in the header menu to all these novel-related posts.
I’ve talked before about a recurring nightmare I’ve had since I was little (short version: I’m in a house I don’t recognize, it’s dark, and every time I flip a light switch, nothing happens. No lights go on. Cue blind panic, running around creepy dark house trying every light, none of them turning on), but I think it’s more accurately an anxiety dream. Did you know there was a difference? I didn’t, until I googled a dream my friend Herbie had (a common “I have a trip I haven’t packed for!” one) to figure out the meaning. Jamal had one the other night, where he never took a required college class and shouldn’t have graduated. We’ve all had some variety of those, right?
Turns out, there’s a whole Wikipedia page about anxiety dreams and how they differ from nightmares; they’re apparently “less disturbing than a nightmares” and “usual themes involve incomplete tasks, embarrassment, falling, or pursuit.” Anxiety dreams can be classified as they’re own distinct category since they occur during REM sleep, and night terrors occur in NREM.
My most recent anxiety dream has been popping up every few weeks for the past year: I’m in Paris, and I can’t get my camera to work. I’m in Paris, on a balcony with a view of the Eiffel Tower, and I look through my camera viewfinder, only to see my lens is shattered. Or I’m in Paris, and my camera won’t expose correctly, and I can’t take a photo that isn’t totally blown out, all white. Last night, just as it has learned to identify my “lights won’t turn on” dream before it happens and call bullshit on the whole thing, my subconscious decided to trick the dream and use the camera on my phone to take a picture. Ha! Take that anxiety dream! Only the dream wasn’t fooled, and even that camera was totally busted and reverse-fish-eyed every shot, so that buildings were distorted and sucked in on themselves in photos. You win this time, dream. (side note: WHAT DOES IT MEAN??)
Do you have any of these? Non-nightmares but totally anxiety producing anyway? I know I’m not alone!
I’ve resisted that annoying hashtag for as long as I could. But I found a gem a few weeks ago in a big stack of old photos and thought it was too good not to share, hashtag or not:
Oh, just 13 year old Erin hanging out (in parachute pants!!) at the Musée Rodin in Paris in the summer of 2000. I wish I could tell you that even back then I was enamored with what is now my favorite city on earth, but the truth is I was such a little shit at 13. Sure, I may look like I’m smiling, but I am somehow, inexplicably, miserable. I’m sure all teenagers are to some capacity, but I couldn’t even shake my hormonal angst on a 10-day trip to London and Paris my mom was kind enough to take me on as an 8th grade graduation gift. Nay, instead I moped through the entire trip, complaining at every turn about having to get up early to see the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace, and (I hate myself for this) making mom suffer through a ham and cheese sandwich every. single. day. in Paris. What was wrong with me?? Of the many things I would change about myself from ages 13-17 (don’t date that boy! don’t try to give yourself dreadlocks! stop listening to O-Town!), the biggest regret I have was not appreciating or remembering every detail of that trip.
Sure, I remember having fish and chips with my great-aunt in Westcliff-on-Sea, served wrapped in newspaper from the local stand near the sea. I remember making my mom laugh with my ability to clear a crowd of tourists around the Venus de Milo at the Louvre by pretending to sneeze really loudly, thus setting up the perfect solo photo-op. I remember what every hotel room looked like, experiencing my first heated towel rack, finding out our Parisian hotel served as the Gestapo headquarters during WWII, and even the flavor of yogurt I ate from the breakfast bar in the morning. But what I can’t tell you is how I felt the first time I laid eyes on the Eiffel Tower. That is a feeling I wish I hadn’t taken for granted, though I’ve more than made up for it on my last two trips when I bawled all over the place upon seeing it.
So yes. Throwback Thursday. Sorry I was such a brat, mom.
Happy birthday to my little dude, who turns three years old today! I’d buy him a special bag of treats but he got about 15 different kinds for Christmas from various family members, so he’s well stocked on that front. I will, however, treat him to extra cuddles and squeezes and belly rubs and let him eat as many ice cubes as he wants (he loves ice cubes). He’s brought so much joy to our lives since we adopted him almost two and a half years ago. He’s silly and adorable and full of personality. Sure, sometimes he pukes on everything for no reason, and he is smelly within a day of being bathed, but I wouldn’t change a thing. I can’t believe you’re three, Fitz! I love you right down to your little white beard and socks.
Well, it’s December 31st. I’ll spare you the reflective naval-gazing and faux-amazement and “Oh my goodness, this year went so fast!”s and just get right down to business: this year was incredibly good to me and I am sad to see it go. Yes, it went by in a blink, but doesn’t every year?
2013 began with a trip to Paris so spectacular I had to be dragged, kicking and screaming, onto the plane home from Charles de Gaulle. We gorged on croissants and bleu cheese, experienced the magic of the city in the snow, fell in love with Montmartre, and oh yeah, got engaged in the gardens of the Rodin Museum. (I then had to break the news to Gary Oldman.)
We picked our wedding venue, I shared our engagement photos and my wedding dress with you, and we booked our honeymoon to Greece. Wedding planning isn’t stressful so much as it is expensive, and we haven’t even fed anyone yet. Oy! But it’s okay, because in a little over eight months, I get to marry the best guy. The kind of guy who put a wedge of (wrapped) goat cheese in my Christmas stocking, that kind of best guy.
Fitz turned two, my office lost a dear friend, I received beautiful gifts all the way from France and a gorgeous, personalized one from England, we went to the pet ER too many times, and I guest-posted for the amazing website Museumist. I started writing for France Property Magazine, and continued working on my novel, a beast of a project that is more rewarding and more beautiful than I ever could have imagined.
I read almost 30 books, fell in love with Paris through my dad’s eyes, and lost 11lbs. Despite the onslaught of holiday cookies and candy (and the aforementioned goat cheese) I’ve managed to keep it off for four months! Eating only two oreos in a sitting (and not craving more!) counts as one of my greatest achievements to date.
What else? I graduated into 200 Level French classes, met my oldest blogging friend for the first time, deepened my fascination with art heists and shared another seven, and bought a new camera. I saw the New Kids on the Block AND the Backstreet Boys in concert, and to counteract all that brain-cell-annihilation, I went to the art museum a bunch this year.
2013 was wonderful, and chock full of incredible moments, but I can’t wait for 2014. I have some big (BIG) things planned for the next year, and I can’t wait to share them with you. Thank you all for reading here and for making this little blog what it is for me. Love you, kiddos. Have a happy and safe New Year.
Every year between the ages of about 10 to 16, I would obnoxiously set an alarm for 4:36am every December 20th and excitedly wake the entire household up when it went off, reminding them at this exact moment, years and years ago, I entered the world, premature, bald, and screaming. I’d like to retroactively apologize for my enthusiasm and sleep torture, because I couldn’t muster that sort of enthusiasm today, on the 27th anniversary of my birth, if I tried.
That isn’t to say I’m not excited about my birthday in general. Presents! Dinner at Parc! Everyone is nice to you! What could be wrong with that equation? No, my lack of joy comes from the number this time: 27. WHEN DID I GET SO OLD? I was just 20 a second ago. Sure, I couldn’t drink, but I also didn’t need to spend $50 every two months on night moisturizers and eye creams. Heck, I barely washed my face every night (okay, I was stupid, but so young! oh, so young!). I also couldn’t drink, was broke as a joke, and pretty miserable. There needs to be a mandatory college course that tells 18-22 year olds over and over, every day for the entire semester, that you will not always be as broke as you are in college, and that one day you will be able to buy sushi and maybe take a nice trip somewhere. That would have been way more useful than the Geology course I scraped by in, but I digress.
Last year, I made a list of 26 really lofty, ambitious goals to undertake in the 12 months I would be 26. Some of them were outrageous and impossible, apparently. Also I’m lazy and resentful of lists now.
26 in 26 – A Year in Review
1. Go to Paris, twice -nope, just once.
2. Become fluent in French (join conversation groups and keep taking classes) - not fluent, but still taking classes and ever so in love with the language!
3. Finish the first draft of my book - ahahahahaha. no.
4. Rescue another dog (somewhere Boyfriend and Fitz are going, “WHAT?!”) - ahahahahahaha. no.
5. Read 26 books - YES! I did this. I snuck in just under the deadline this week, thanks to my friend Herbie who suggested I read some plays to up my count. Full re-cap next week.
6. Start doing Pilates again - half yes? I did Pilates over the summer but then dropped the habit once I hit my weight loss goal. I’m pretty sure that’s not how it’s supposed to work.
7. Eat a new food (oysters?) - I accidentally ate veal, so we’re calling this a ‘yes.’
8. See 2 plays - I saw one play in Paris and the ballet this fall, so I’m giving myself full credit because it’s my birthday and I can.
9. Run a mile (a whole mile! that doesn’t involve catching a bus!) - I managed 0.65 miles the first and only time I attempted running and I honestly thought I was going to die or that my head was going to fall off.
10. Enjoy a day at the beach (emphasis on the word ‘enjoy‘ not just ‘go to’) - no, beaches are terrible and I don’t need to like them. Beaches, like running, are for crazy people.
11. Take my nieces to the zoo - no, I am a terrible aunt.
12. Go ice-skating - no, but that would have been fun.
13. Go one month without buying anything (this is my Everest) - ahahahahaha. no.
14. Travel overseas somewhere new - nope.
15. Call my grandmother once a week - YES.
16. Attempt my 365 Project again (ahem) - I don’t want to talk about it.
17. Blog everyday for a year - I missed the day after Thanksgiving and a random Thursday two weeks ago.
18. Visit at least 5 museums - I went to the same museum at least 10 times, does that count?
19. See 2 movies in the theater by myself - nope, not even “Paranoia“! :(
20. Cook one meal a month (an upgrade from the current 0) – I will have you know I am now an expert at microwaving Boca Chik’n patties, thankyouverymuch.
21. Curse less – fuck no.
22. Paint the living room - OMG HOW HAVE WE STILL NOT ACCOMPLISHED THIS.
23. Attend Synagogue services at least once (23a. find out what the actual name of Synagogue services is, you awful Jew) – no, but thank goodness Jews don’t believe in hell!
24. Volunteer at a women’s shelter - okay, so I tried. But given the nature of women’s shelters, any volunteers need a plethora of background checks before being even shortlisted to volunteer, and then there’s an entire approval process. This year, I was able to serve dinner to cancer patients at UPenn Hospital, help raise $1000 for Programs Employing People, and participated in several donation drives for homeless veterans. That has to count, right?
25. Attend a writer’s conference - no.
26. Land my dream job - with all this newfound wisdom that comes with age, I’ve learned there is no such thing as a ‘dream job,’ unless a career exists wherein I can hold hands with Gary Oldman all day every day.
I’ve learned my lesson this year, and will therefore not hold myself to 27 unachievable tasks. Except for #5, only I’m upping it to 27. I could have read many more books than I did this year if I hadn’t decided to start in like June. Oh, and #3. That needs to happen.
I leave you today with this video, which is so appropriate and accurate I can’t believe no one made it sooner. Happy birthday to me, and to all the other holiday babies (Roothers! my best friend Aidan!).