Happy Birthday, Fitzy!

fitzcute

Happy National Dog Day, Fitz!

mar12fitz3

Somebody had a birthday yesterday! Fitz, you wonderfully weird little ball of love, you turned five yesterday! FIVE! …Um, possibly. His birthday could also be the 9th, according to his adoption paperwork. There are three entries with his birthday, and two of them say 1/6/11, and the other says 1/9/11. Transposition error? We’ll never know. Like a stolen masterpiece, Fitz’s provenance is a mystery to us. Where did he come from? (Outer space.) Are there more like him? Who had him before us? We adopted him at eight months old, and he’d already been adopted from the shelter once and then returned. I’d love to meet the heartless monster who did that to my sweet boy, but it’s probably better that we never, ever cross paths. And besides, Fitz belonged with us all along. Whatever trauma and separation anxiety he internalized from spending the first six months of his life bouncing around shelters comes with the territory of adopting a dog, and I’ve never regretted it.

It’s been such a rewarding four and a half years being this little guy’s personal assistant (let’s be real) and Official Cuddle Provider. This last year was a big one for him: we stopped crating him during the day, giving him unfettered, unattended access to the entire house. Risky, given his track record (ahem), but he has more than lived up to the trust we placed in him when we disassembled his crate, and he now spends most of his day snoozing on the sofa, not shredding a single area rug, box of tissues, or the recycling. He’s matured so much in the last year, and while I did just catch him drinking from the filthy water in the christmas tree stand, he’s developed into a mellow old soul at this age. That doesn’t mean he won’t turn into a Mexican jumping bean when someone new walks in the door, and he still screams his head off at the slightest jingle of a dog’s leash somewhere in a three block radius on walks, but we’ll take any sort of progress we can get.

This was also the year we stopped giving him Prozac. You might recall that our vet prescribed it for him almost immediately upon adoption, and we diligently gave it to him every morning in a scoop of peanut butter in the hopes that it would help with his many (many) anxieties, but at his annual check-up in October the vet opted not to refill Fitz’s prescription. It wasn’t worth the side effects, and honestly, I don’t know if this is good or bad, we haven’t noticed a difference yet. Prozac Pup no more!

Fitz, I love you so much. Happy birthday!

And now, some throwback photos of my favorite boy, from 2011 to 2013! (When he was still technically “a puppy” and approximately 12lbs lighter)

fitz snow

fitzinbed

fitzy1

January 7, 2016 / life / dog / LEAVE A COMMENT / 15

The Gap

Ira Glass’s thoughts on there being a “taste gap” for creative beginners, gorgeously animated by filmmaker Daniel Sax.

Nobody tells people who are beginners — and I really wish somebody had told this to me — is that all of us who do creative work … we get into it because we have good taste. But it’s like there’s a gap, that for the first couple years that you’re making stuff, what you’re making isn’t so good, OK? It’s not that great. It’s really not that great. It’s trying to be good, it has ambition to be good, but it’s not quite that good…

A lot of people never get past that phase. A lot of people at that point, they quit.

…And the most important possible thing you can do is do a lot of work — do a huge volume of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week, or every month, you know you’re going to finish one story. Because it’s only by actually going through a volume of work that you are actually going to catch up and close that gap. And the work you’re making will be as good as your ambitions. It takes a while, it’s gonna take you a while — it’s normal to take a while. And you just have to fight your way through that, okay?

Okay, Ira Glass, I’m listening. Do you guys –any of you who do creative work– necessarily agree with this sentiment? It’s comforting (though obvious) to hear that you shouldn’t expect to be good right off the bat. That like anything else, it takes practice. Glass’s words are simple (and old; this interview is from 2009!), but they alleviate a lot of the (self-imposed) pressure that comes with writing, at least for me.

January 5, 2016 / read / watch / LEAVE A COMMENT / 2

Goodbye, 2015

"Put up a fucking fight for what you love," Rue de l'Abreuvoir

What a year. In years past, I’ve shared highlights, my top five favorite things that happened, and provided a general recap of notable events (you guessed it: lots and lots of Paris). This year was kind of a rollercoaster: in March I sent out an SOS at one of the lowest points in my life; in May we went to Italy and Paris, and spent two glorious weeks eating our weight in gelato and pasta; in July I left my job of five and a half years for a new opportunity; in September we celebrated one year of marriage; and at the end of November and beginning of December, I went back to Paris. And, oh yeah! There was that little novel I’d been working on in fits and spurts, that finally this year felt like it was coming together the way I wanted it to. I’d be hard pressed to complain about this year as a whole, and frankly, spending a combined three weeks in Europe precludes me from anything approaching discontent.

But if I’d written this post just two days ago, the tone would have been drastically different. On Monday night, I inadvertently got sucked into a marathon of Parks and Rec. It was the 7th season, and April, the show’s resident malcontent, all grown up in the three year time jump between seasons, was struggling with being 29 and having no idea what she wanted to do with her life.

April: I feel totally lost.
Donna: Saturn’s Return.
April: What?
Donna: Saturn’s orbit around the sun takes roughly 29 years. And when it gets back to where it was when you were born…lots of turmoil, self discovery.

Eleven days ago, I turned 29. I didn’t feel any of the previous excitement that accompanied birthdays, because 29 is scary. The last year of my 20s? How!? I barely have my shit together, and still get the impulse to call my mother when I have to do anything vaguely adult-y, like roll over my 401k into an IRA, or even schedule my own doctor’s appointments. And the universe let me creep another year closer to 30?

Anyway, I watched that episode (and several after it) without giving that particular exchange too much thought. That was Monday. On Tuesday, I was let go from my job due to budget cuts, the job that swept in out of nowhere earlier this year and plucked me out of the depths of a depression so deep I thought I would never get out. But get out I did, and it was due in large part to getting to do something creative and using my brain at work for the first time in years. While I’m obviously upset and a little bruised (and more than a little concerned about, you know, not having an income), I am extremely grateful I got to have this experience for the last six months, because now I know not to settle for anything less.

Banksy

So I’m entering 2016 on less stable footing than I anticipated (Saturn’s Return!), but part of me is just going to surrender to it, and see where it takes me. Maybe this is what I finally need to finish my novel after all? Maybe I need to get comfortable with my discomfort and panic to find out what I really want to do. I have no idea what 2016 will bring me (besides a trip to Paris in March and Spain in April) but I hope you’ll stick around for the ride. I’m so lucky to have you kiddos, and I promise to be more attentive around here!

Have a wonderful New Year.

December 31, 2015 / life / dog / LEAVE A COMMENT / 7

2015 in Books

2015Books

My year in books:

Book Goal: 25
Books Read: 32 (well, 31, but I’ll finish “The Woman in the Photograph” by Thursday)
Books Set in/About Paris: 16 (one more than last year!)
Books Borrowed from the Library: 14!
Favorite Book(s): “The President’s Hat” by Antoine Laurain, and “The Elegance of the Hedgehog” by Muriel Barbery
Least Favorite(s): “Headhunters” by Jo Nesbø was just terrible. I borrowed it from the library because it involves a series of art heists, but what a disappointment. It read like a shorthand synopsis of a film script Nesbø was pitching to someone else to write in full. At one point, the protagonist hid in an outhouse toilet. Also “My Paris Dream” by Kate Betts. I didn’t think it was possible to write a bad memoir about Paris, but boy was I wrong. Entitled, miserable drivel.
Longest Book: “The Goldfinch” by Donna Tartt, 784 pages (again.) Having now read this twice, I can safely say I won’t read it a third time.
Shortest Book: “Flore: A Short Story” at 27 pages. I received this as a free download from the author (who also wrote “Paris, Rue des Martyrs,” Adria Cimino).
Funniest: “The Phantom Tollbooth” by Norton Juster, though perhaps it’s more clever than laugh-out-loud funny
Saddest: “Luncheon of the Boating Party” by Susan Vreeland, a touching (fictionalized) account of Renoir’s famous painting and the stories of each of the models. For non-fiction: “The Hotel on Place Vendôme” and “In The Garden of Beasts” by Erik Larson, both of which focus on Nazi Germany’s rise to power and are just seriously depressing.
Books Bought in European bookshops: Just 1 :(
Prettiest Covers: Hard to pick, as none of them are knock-outs, but I know for sure it wasn’t “Rebecca” by Daphne du Maurier. It may look like a cheesy grocery store checkout romance paperback, but I promise it wasn’t!
Most Overrated: “Big Magic” by Elizabeth Gilbert. Guys, did you know we like, shouldn’t be afraid of our creativity? Groundbreaking stuff here. And “The Little Paris Bookshop” by Nina George. To summarize my Goodreads review: “The Little Paris Bookshop” was neither little, in Paris, nor a bookshop, DISCUSS.”

What did you guys read this year that stood out for you? I’m always taking suggestions for next year!

December 29, 2015 / read / watch / LEAVE A COMMENT / 11

December in Paris, pt. 5: Montmartre

Parisian Rooftops

Place Jean-Baptiste Clément

Scooter, Rue Gabrielle

Un Chat

Chairs, Rue Gabrielle

Un Homme

Amelie

Rue Caulaincourt

Sacré-Cœur

View from Sacré-Cœur

View from Sacré-Cœur

La Tour Eiffel

View from Sacré-Cœur

And that last photo might be my favorite I’ve ever taken. That pigeon photobombed me as I was taking it, but I knew immediately it was for the best. I just love it. What do you think, should I add it to the Print Shop? I might even print one for myself!

December 18, 2015 / art / photo / Paris / travel / LEAVE A COMMENT / 16

December in Paris, pt. 4: The Left Bank (mostly)

Jardin des Tuileries

Man on Bike, Jardin des Tuileries

Boulevard Saint-Germain

Book Benches, Square Gabriel-Pierné

Ouvert

Rue de Lille

Champ de Mars

La Tour Eiffel

La Tour Eiffel

Avenue Elisée Reclus

Avenue Elisée Reclus

Early Evening Light, Saint-Germain

There is nothing like the light in Paris. There were long stretches of gray for the first few days of my trip, and then, almost as if someone flipped a switch, the skies lit up in blue and gold in that classically Paris way. Winter light is different, sharper and clearer, than hazy summer and spring sunlight. I marveled at it like a silly tourist, standing on street corners just staring up at the sky. I also tried to be less precious this trip about not photographing people, rather than waiting for passerby to exit my frame.

December 16, 2015 / art / photo / Paris / travel / LEAVE A COMMENT / 5

December in Paris, pt. 3: Musée Rodin

Musée Rodin

Musée Rodin

Musée Rodin

Musée Rodin

Rainbow, Musée Rodin

Musée Rodin

Musée Rodin

Musée Rodin

Musée Rodin

Bunny, Musée Rodin

Musée Rodin

There are places in the world where you immediately feel happier, more alive and complete, just by setting foot there. For some people, it’s the beach or a childhood home or a private island, I don’t know. For me, it’s Paris, but even more specifically, it’s the gardens of the Musée Rodin. There is no where, and nothing, I love more than this place. And happily, the main house reopened in early November after nearly two years of construction, though it was hard to go inside and leave the gardens when the weather was as glorious as it was that day.

People sometimes complain that Paris can be over-glorified with so many twee, Pinterest-y images flooding our collective conscious, and that’s true to a certain extent. The city isn’t just macarons and carrousels and accordion players under the Eiffel Tower. However, after spending the morning with my favorite artist, I can confirm: it really is all rainbows and bunnies. How lucky was I to spot both?

December 15, 2015 / art / photo / Paris / travel / LEAVE A COMMENT / 4

December in Paris, pt. 2

My Apartment in Paris

François 1er

Hôtel Plaza Athénée

Rue des Saussaies

Sotheby's Paris

Sotheby's Paris

Christmas, Place Vendôme

Evening in the Tuileries

Pont du Carrousel

Sunrise, Clichy

Sunrise, Clichy

Le Saint Regis

A Paris highlight: attending (yet another) auction at Sotheby’s, this time an African art and sculpture collection that was delightfully outside of my normal interests (read: Impressionism or bust). I stood in the back corner, along with several gallery girls, diligently taking notes on every lot and paddle number. I love that place, which sounds strange, given all the monuments and museums in the city, but I do. If you’ve ever been curious about auctions, go! They’re open to the public, endlessly entertaining (where else can you see millions of dollars spent so freely and openly?), and informative, if you’re an aspiring novelist or art enthusiast.

December 14, 2015 / art / photo / Paris / travel / LEAVE A COMMENT / 4

December in Paris, pt. 1

Place des Vosges

Musée Carnavalet

Musée Carnavalet

Musée Carnavalet

Le Marais

Le Marais

Place Dauphine

Place Dauphine

Pont Neuf

Rue Bailleul

Palais Royal

Palais Royal

Palais Royal

Palais Royal

I’m trying to edit these down, but it looks like I’m going to inundate you with at least another two weeks worth of photos. How did I take nearly 400 photos in a week? (That’s rhetorical, of course I know how. Have you seen this city?).

I went a few places this trip I hadn’t before: exploring Le Marais, visiting the Musée Carnavalet (and getting to see two Louis Béroud paintings in person finally!), and stopping in to the Palais Royal. I am so embarrassed it took me this long to visit this gorgeous, meticulously designed garden, but I fully intend on making it my first destination when I’m back in the city in March (96 days!). If it looked this beautiful barren, I imagine I’ll be overwhelmed in early spring.

December 10, 2015 / art / photo / Paris / travel / LEAVE A COMMENT / 3

November in Paris

Morning, Rue des Abbesses

My Apartment in Paris

Rue Grenelle

Boulevard des Invalides

Fleurs

Boulevard de La Tour Maubourg

Rue Cler

Rue Cler

Fleuriste

Somewhere in Paris

La Tour Eiffel

What can I say about Paris that I haven’t already said? Are you sick of hearing me sing its praises? (I don’t blame you!) I will say that I expected Paris to be many things last week: cold, dark, rainy, still reeling from the terror attacks a few weeks ago, scared, on edge, different. It wasn’t any of those things. It drizzled exactly once, a quick shower not even worthy of digging out my umbrella. I found the same Paris I’d left in May: unseasonably warm and bright, welcoming, insouciant, defiant, alive. I noticed more tricolores hanging from balconies and hung in shop windows, more signs declaring “Fluctant Nec Mergitur,” and yes, more French soldiers with large guns, pacing in front of monuments, standing sentry in front of synagogues in le Marais, and more security guards requesting to check my bag entering shops and museums. But Paris itself? Paris was the same, if not quieter and calmer, for the off-season lack of tourist and crowds. It was beautiful, and I loved every second of it, as I always have and I always will.

I hung out with Süsk, ate my weight in baguettes and butter, went to three museums (the Louvre, Rodin, and Carnavalet), wrote my ass off and finished a chapter that had been giving me a headache for weeks, explored new neighborhoods, walked an average of 25k steps (roughly 15km) each day, and only cried in public three times (all happy occasions, I promise, like seeing the Eiffel Tower again). I have so many photos to share with you! I’ll go easy on the words, because really, you’ve heard me say it all before. En bref, Paris is perfect.

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December 8, 2015 / art / photo / Paris / travel / LEAVE A COMMENT / 10