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.

Snow Day!

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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.

Anxiety Dreams

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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!

photo via

Throwback Thursday

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:

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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, Fitz!

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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.

27 Candles

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.

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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!).

Happy Weekend

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I would apologize about not posting yesterday, but I really couldn’t make it happen. Between work, writing, freelance writing, and French class, I’ve just been pulled in a million different directions this week and I didn’t have the time. It’s a shame, because I was just a few weeks ago from completing another year of posting every day (well, unless you count Black Friday…) but I’m not going to beat myself up. Right? Right.

Thankfully, I’m off from work today, but have about a million different errands to run. Those of you who work full-time outside the home know how impossible it is to get anything done during the week; I’m usually doing six loads of laundry on Sunday and squeezing in a trip to one store on the way home to pick something up. I’m happy for the three day weekend, mostly because Jamal comes home tonight from a week in South Africa (he traveled 60+ hours roundtrip for a 3 hour business meeting. I can’t even.) but also because we’re getting our Christmas tree tomorrow, and it’s supposed to snow again! To the lady on the bus last week who I overheard say, “Actually, it’s supposed to be a really mild winter, we’re not supposed to get any snow!”, to thee I say: NA NA NA NA NAAA. We got about 10 inches between last Sunday and Tuesday, and are expecting another 4 tomorrow. Of course, it’s all melted now except for a few insistent piles, which Fitz seeks out to stick his whole face deep into.

What are you up to this weekend? I have a fun surprise to share with you on Monday. Have a good one kiddos! And thank you for all the kind comments about the quick one-liner I shared from my novel.

Happy Birthday, Daddy.

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Today would have been my daddy’s 75th birthday. Happy, happy birthday to the man who shared all his favorite things with me: Turner, Paris, stinky cheese, chunky wool sweaters, neutral colors, IKEA, quiet times by yourself, books, tea, and a good sunset. I miss you every day.

Jewels

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photographer Mark Olic

Here’s something you might not know about me: I danced ballet for 11 years. I stopped when I was a freshman in high school (I promptly gained my weekends back and about 15lbs, finally breaking 100). I had just started en pointe, and yes my feet are a little worse of for it even today. My parents enrolled me at 2 (3?) at the urging of my pediatrician, who was polite in his concern over my knock-kneed-ness, but forceful in his suggestion to straighten that out. Literally. I danced for 7 years under a teacher who graduated from the Royal Academy of Dance, in London, and who once worked with Margot Fonteyn. She was the most terrifying English woman I’ve ever met (Ms. Tonner, not Margot Fonteyn), but damn if she didn’t turn out some fantastic dancers.

Partially traumatizing story: my mother washed my tights with a regular load of wash once, which you’re never supposed to do, and they turned an angry shade of dark pink. Ms. Tonner called me “lobster legs” for months in her alarming accent.

I still miss ballet even 13 years later. I miss darting to the corner to crunch your slippers into the rosin box. I miss buns bobby-pinned and sprayed into a shellacked rock at the back of my head so tightly that not even the fastest pirouette could disturb it. I miss the controlled breathing, the posture, the grace, and that classic ballerina figure. I miss all the French! I miss late Friday evenings and early Saturday mornings spent in the studio, at the barre, classical music filling the large space. I still listen to Shostakovich ballet suites on repeat. This one, performed by the Russian Philharmonic gives me goosebumps:

Also, If I had continued I probably could have crushed someone to death with my thigh muscles. Also also, I know every line of “Center Stage” and don’t you try to tell me that’s not awesome.

So at every ballet recital my nieces have been in the last few years, I get a little weepy and emotional. The studio they attend brings in two professional dancers from the Pennsylvania Ballet Company to perform one piece during the recital. Professional ballerinas are a thing of beauty. Unless you’ve seen them in person there’s just no describing it. Immediately after they’d finished at the recital this past June, I said to Jamal, “God, I miss ballet. Why don’t we go to the ballet?!” To which he responded, a few weeks later, with tickets to a George Balanchine production called Jewels for our anniversary. We thought it was tonight, but when we dug the tickets out this morning and checked the date, we realized it’s next Saturday. Oops.

In the meantime I’ll be practicing my arabesque.

Thoughts for a Wednesday

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I awoke this morning to a text message from Jamal. If there is anything more divine than waking up to, “Macarons: procured!” I’ve yet to experience it. So yes, Jamal is in Paris and I’m split somewhere in the neighborhood of 80/20 when it comes to my happiness/jealousy ratio. I talked to him this morning and he’s having the best time; he bought cheap bleu cheese from our local fromagerie on Rue des Abbesses, stopped in for a coffee break and stood at the bar with the other old French men while drinking his café. He went to our favorite street near the Eiffel Tower, bought himself new mustard at Maille. Last night in French class, my teacher told me I was “more advanced” than the class level, so that’s basically the same thing as being in Paris, right? Right.

I’ve been writing up a storm these past two weeks. It’s one line at a time (bird by bird) usually (most recently: “But that’s it. You don’t know they’re bad until the end.”), but on Sunday as the afternoon light faded, it was 3 whole hand-written pages on my sofa, the scratch of my pen against the paper the only sound in the room.

It’s been a good two weeks sans fiancé, honestly. As good as can be expected. I vacuumed a lot. Ate Halloween oreos before dinner if I felt like it. He’s in Paris until late tomorrow afternoon, and while I’m really, truly thrilled he’s there, enjoying our city and falling in love with it on his own, I’m ready for him to come home.

With macarons, naturellement.