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).
I went on a bit of a book-buying-spree the other day, convinced the teetering stack in my “to read” pile at home is somehow insufficient. My Goodreads challenge for this year is to read 30 books, and I’m through nine so far, almost at 11 (I read several books at once. I have literary ADD). Four seemed like a good number, and I’ve gotten pretty good at navigating the Amazon Marketplace for used copies that are still eligible for free Prime shipping. My problem now will be deciding which one to read next. Oy.
What are you reading right now? I’m in the middle of “The Circle” by Dave Eggars and about 20 pages from the end of “Eiffel’s Tower” by Jill Jonnes. The latter is a history of the 1889 Exposition Universelle, including the construction of la tour. Did you know Monsieur Eiffel himself had a penthouse at the very top level for a while? That real estate must have been insane.
The other night as I was falling asleep, Jamal sitting up watching House Hunters next to me, I heard the most marvelous thing a girl obsessed with Gary Oldman could hope to hear in the dark of her bedroom: Gary Oldman. “It sounds like…” I thought, drowsily, but then again when am I not hallucinating about hearing Gary Oldman’s voice? It didn’t sound like the usual loop of him reading poetry to me that I like to imagine; he was talking about something indecipherable. A phone? That couldn’t be Gary Oldman. “Wait…is it?” I sat up. There he was: on the television, staring moodily out the window, none other than my crush to end all crushes, Gary Oldman.
Can you seriously imagine anything better than being jolted awake by a THIRTY FULL SECONDS of this:
It’s the most mesmerizing thing I’ve ever seen. Needless to say I had trouble falling back to sleep. I wanted to immediately run out and buy what I am now referring to as The Gary Oldman Phone.
Oh, Gary Oldman! I know I had to break up with you last year, but I hope we can be together again in the future! True love waits for no man, I know, but–
OH, GARY OLDMAN. You know how to make a girl swoon.
PS. Guess who learned how to make gifs from video?! THIS GIRL.
Sparked by the weekly “By the Book” interview in the Sunday Book Review, in which they ask a featured author a series of interesting questions, I thought we’d play a fun little game:
You’re hosting a literary dinner party. Which three writers are invited, living or deceased?
This makes for surprisingly fun dinner conversation, if you’re book nerds like me and Jamal. And after careful deliberation, and lots of waffling, I’ve narrowed down my three writers to:
1. Steve Martin
2. Paul LaFarge
3. JK Rowling
Who would you pick? It’s tough! I originally chose Shakespeare for the third spot, but then remembered, “Oh yeah, Harry Potter!” I thought about F. Scott Fitzgerald, but he’d probably just get drunk the entire time, right? Who are your three invitees?
I’ve made no secret of my love of ballet (I’m convinced all that exposure to French words at age 3 might have had something to do with me turning into a Francophile later in life, even if they were shouted by a brusque, crazy English ex-dancer) so imagine my delight at seeing these photographs in last weekend’s New York Times magazine, behind the scenes with the New York City Ballet corps. Oh, how I miss it sometimes! The stretching, the bloody toes, the blisters, the hairspray, the grace, the beauty, the music, all of it. I’ve thought about taking a beginner’s class again for about, oh, five years now, but I’m too afraid my body would rebel against being made to bend and move in ways outside of what is expected for laying on the sofa binge-watching tv by cramping horribly the moment I donned a leotard. Ah, well. Do you think I could raid that pointe shoe closet? Sometimes when I wear leg warmers (don’t judge me, it’s cold in my writing room) I point my toes and use my desk as the barre and practice a few pliés. My posture isn’t what it used to be, and my turn-out is laughable, but I still like to think I’m a ballerina inside (buried underneath donuts and a contempt for exercise).
So she let him in, and he walked behind her, his footfalls on the worn treads of the stairs echoing hers as they climbed the narrow spiral to her door, a call and response like prayer. His hand on her shoulder as she found her key, his head hung low to the swath of skin exposed at the back of her neck, her hair pulled forward over one shoulder. They slipped inside and out of their clothes, his mouth finding hers, a question that begged to be answered, and she responded eagerly.
The automatic light on the landing clicked off, dropping the stairwell into darkness, a rich, heavy quiet that filtered down the banisters and sunk against the cold stone on the ground floor.
…And as quietly as she’d told him to come, she told him now to go. The city outside was kicking to life, the pink sky settling between the houses and avenues, the silence abating as the first windows became illuminated, rectangles of yellow breaking the surface of the dawn, picture frames of people starting their day. He pulled on his coat and was gone. The air shifted with his absence, adjusting to the lack of him, more noticeable to her than the steady, low breath against her shoulder had been as he’d slept.
It’s not new and it’s far from perfect or polished, but I wanted to share this little passage with you, mostly to keep myself accountable and to prove that all of the deep, angsty expositing I do is actually in pursuit of something real. I’m doing it. I’m writing this book.
I know I post a lot of glorious, architecturally stunning apartments in Paris (here for starters) to swoon over, and while I’d kill to live in any of them, in reality my requirements are adorably low: a roof, a window, a toilet. I don’t even need a hot plate or a mini fridge, or even much more than a bed and a desk with a chair. A studette on the 7th floor with a slanted roof and a shared toilet in the hallway landing? Parfait, as long as it’s in Paris!
But still…I wouldn’t exactly say no to this beauty, mostly because of the towering, countless stacks of books in every room. Be still my heart! This apartment is located in the 5eme arrondissement, right along the Seine, and has a view to die for (just wait until you see it).
Oh, just Notre Dame, right out your window. Who needs a tv between those windows when you have that view? What I love most about the apartment is that all of the windows are thrown open, with those piles of books just beckoning you to curl up and laze around for an afternoon, listening to the Seine roll by. And in the fifth photo, if you look closely in the background, you’ll see a small nook with a bookshelf and a tiny ottoman squeezed in. That right there? Erin’s spot.
The upside to working long, long (long) days last week is that by the time Friday rolled around, I only had to put in two hours worth of work, which I gloriously accomplished from my sofa in my un-fanciest sweatpants. By mid-morning, I was a free lady, ready to jumpstart my weekend the best way I know how: $3 French onion soup at my favorite diner, and then an afternoon at the museum (that’s its own category now!).
Some people have rituals they adhere to out of respect to the experience, like saying grace before tucking into their meal or wearing the same socks whenever your home team plays. For me, it’s like a gravitational pull the moment I walk in to the museum: I have to go visit the Impressionists first. Sometimes I never make it out of that wing, but on Friday I did end up in one of the upstairs galleries, a Parisian salon from 13, rue Royale, dated 1785. There was a small radio looping a Charles Baudelaire poem, in French and then in English, and I must’ve stayed there for half an hour, just listening. “N’es-tu pas l’oasis où je rêve.”/”You are the last oasis where I dream, afire.” It was skin-tingly.
But something else magical happened, too. I can’t begin to count the number of times I’ve visited the museum (thousands??) but I’d never seen art students painting in the galleries before Friday. It was my very own École du Louvre moment. And I’m sure I broke their concentration with all my clicking away at the shutter and lurking quietly behind them, but it was just too spellbinding watching them work.
This Pissarro orchard painting (or a version of it) plays a pretty important role in my novel. The writing, for those of you who have asked recently, is coming along really well. I’ve been meaning to give you a more substantial update (and maybe even another snippet?), and I will, I promise. What a tease.
This post is brought to you by Zombie Erin. Regular Erin was unable to come to the blog today, because she is exhausted. Don’t worry, she’ll be back to normal after she catches up on the roughly 30 hours of sleep she was robbed of this week. If I’ve been a bit MIA around your blogs this week, forgive me kiddos! I’ve been burning the candle at both ends.
Let’s get right to it:
1. The Veronica Mars movie!
Yes, I know I just raved about it oh, three days ago, but my love for this show has only grown more intense since then. And the movie comes out TODAY! I actually caught the trailer on tv last night and I squealed a little bit. No one ruin it for me, I’m waiting until I finish all 64 episodes before I see it, and with Jamal coming home tomorrow night (!! finally) my binge-watching habits will be cut short. Do you guys think I could get him into it? He might be charmed by Veronica’s quick wit and Logan’s pouty, yummy lips — I mean…
Here’s a fun fact: I only have two credit cards, and one of them is a Loft store card. My entire wardrobe is from this store, and thanks to their generous sales, coupons, and credit card reward perks, I often walk away from the register feeling like I’ve robbed them (I once got a $98 dress, a $34 cardigan, and a $30 dress for…wait for it…$43 TOTAL, thanks to coupons and a sale). These hair ties were an impulse buy (I never wear my hair back except when I’m washing my face at night) but can you blame me? Polka dots!
3. This unexpected Google Earth option:
You can go inside the Musée l’Orangerie. What?? How? This has taken my Paris “visits” to a whole new level. Pardon me while I Google-Earth my way through every single building (museum or otherwise) in Paris.
4. This gorgeous Parisian apartment:
Just when I think there is a shortage of classically Haussmann apartments for sale, I stumble upon a treasure like this one that makes me wish I was secretly the heiress to a bazillion dollar fortune or the next J.K. Rowling. For those herringbone floors I would even consider being the author of Fifty Shades of Gray, artistic integrity be damned!
5. This frenetic interview with Sarah Jessica Parker (and a sneak-peek home tour):
While I would prefer to watch the video on mute (the interviewer’s voice and faux-spontaneity are grating — it’s rehearsed, dude, the jig is up) it’s pretty neat to see inside SJP’s New York brownstone. The light-up globes in the den, the giant windows, a ping pong table in the living room, the walls of books? Such a refreshing change from the totally soulless, staged homes you see in design magazines. Her home is lived in and eclectic, and fittingly reminded me of a grown-up Carrie Bradshaw.
What are you up to this weekend? I’m heading to the museum today and then to lunch at my favorite diner, to soak up my last few days “living solo,” haha. Make it a good one, kiddos!
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)
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: