• traveling lightly

    one of my primary tenants in life is the value of traveling lightly. i haven’t always felt this way though. it wasn’t until a multi-month european sojourn (it was for school, don’t be too jealous–ok, maybe a little jealousy is warranted, as i spent about six months milling around museums in tuscany and getting paid for it.). the bottom line is, i came to the revelation of traveling lightly as i attempted to haul three gigantic peacock colored suitcases, all on unwieldy rollers over close to a mile of cobblestone. in high heels. and did i mention the contents of the three bags stacked together outweighed me by almost exactly 35 pounds? fun times.

    since this unfortunate encounter, i’ve held fast to a strict one carry-on + large purse policy. it doesn’t matter if it’s a weekend away or a month or more. one bag and that’s all. edit, edit and edit again. and let’s be honest, this also means i come close to having a panic attack whilst packing. while it does make packing more challenging, it’s also a good opportunity to be creative with your wardrobe and incorporate more small accents like scarves and jewelry. i’m also now part of the comfortable (but hopefully still chic) shoe club, which also happens to take up far less precious space than a bevy of heels.

    traveling for special occasions or formal events does make this far more challenging, but happily still doable. especially if you have an accommodating significant other that’s willing to give up a tad bit of space in his bag. (here’s looking at you brad). however, i’m happy to report that while i do feel (more than) a bit stressed while packing and trying to figure out how to make enough outfits, by the time i’m actually off on an adventure i feel well prepared and not in the least weighed down by my luggage. it’s a wonderful thing.

    i’m so fanatical about this subject (almost aggressively so–i feel like i should apologize to my close friends & family) that i put together ten of my favorite pieces of packing advice–essential for traveling lightly:

    1.  buy an outlandishly expensive carry-on bag. something you will feel absolutely awful about if you don’t use. this should not only be beautiful, but highly functional. look for at least a few pockets or buy some leather pouches (i’m partial to baggu) to contain loose ends and small items.
    2. always travel with some sort of oversized scarf. it’s a perennially chic option, can be used as a blanket in an pinch and can help vary your basic wardrobe items.
    3. set a color palette and stick to it. this is essential and usually requires a great deal of discipline. it also the only way i know to pack lightly and still look put together.
    4. base your outfits around your shoe selections. shoes are generally bulky and you can only bring about 3 pairs maximum in a carry on. choose wisely.
    5. always always always travel with a foldable flat tote tucked into the bottom of your carry on. you will likely buy something while you’re away and shipping is not always a feasible option. it’s nice to know that if you fall in love with an amazing piece of pottery, you’ll have a way to transport it back with you that’s not too inconvenient. (longchamp has some lovely options that fit the bill–and they last forever).
    6. two words: cashmere slippers (luxe version & a more affordable option here). yes, they are a bit of a luxury item, but they literally take up the tiniest amount of space and make a long flight or a far-flung hotel room so much more enjoyable. worth every penny.
    7. choose multi-tasking beauty products. you don’t need five different hair products and two makeup bags stuffed to the brim. it helps to buy a travel approved clear plastic bag so you can move smoothly through security and not deal with loads of liquids, gels and all the other products you probably don’t really need.
    8. package your clothes as outfits. depending on how much time i have before a trip and how neurotic i’m feeling, i sometimes make index cards outlining the various outfit options so i can easily decide what to wear, as i certainly don’t want to waste much time on this while traveling. sometimes taking photos of outfits beforehand helps as well. one rule you must follow: try everything on together. it’s shocking how much works on the hanger but doesn’t work in real life. do not assume anything.
    9. only bring items that you love. traveling is not the time to experiment with outfits that you’re unsure of or that make you feel even mildly uncomfortable.
    10. bring at least one lounge outfit for around the house or the hotel room. i usually try to get out of this requirement to make room for more “real” clothes, but always find myself eager to slip into some yoga pants after a full day of meetings or sightseeing.

    any favorite tips for traveling lightly? share them with me–i’d love to hear them!

  • one quick trip to tj

    November 28, 2014 No tags Permalink 0

    i nervously bit my lip. we were waiting for what seemed hours on end for the trolley to arrive to take us to the border for a day trip to tijuana. as a full disclosure, i’ve rarely traveled too far outside of my comfort zone, opting for countries where i speak at least a bit of the language and understand most of the cultural norms. even though tj is less than a 30 minute drive from where we live, it’s a place that i had very little understanding of, a fact i’m rather embarrassed to admit in any public forum. taking a day trip down to tj has been on my list for at least three years now but i kept making excuses as to why it wasn’t the right time. some of the harrowing news around the border in recent years certainly didn’t help to ease my anxiety.

    but here we were, the train whooshing by ready to take us to tj. we strolled across the border with ease–goodness, i thought to myself, i assumed this would be much harder. little did i know that was the way back. the ease of entering a foreign country made it feel, well, considerably less foreign–many restaurants are far harder to get into. it hit me that we were no longer in san diego when we were bombarded with a variety of offers, propositions and some of the loudest ranchero musics i’ve ever heard, blaring from speakers set up on the main road. the mood changed quickly once we got a few hundred yards in and began to feel more like a ghost town, or, perhaps more accurately, like a town hit by a zombie apocalypse. there was almost no one on the streets save a few lone walkers here or there. i can’t imagine a more interesting place to set a short film or photo shoot frankly.

    we walked another mile into the main areas of the city, where the scene started to turn into something else entirely. i felt like a (semi-anxious) child, taking in a landscape that was entirely different than any i had seen outside of photographs or films. there was so much to look at, from interesting decrepit buildings to the steepest wheelchair ramps i’ve ever seen, as well as amazing vintage typography. once i got over my initial anxiety (and had a few of the most delicious tacos of my life to date) i began to really take in the experience. one more reason to push just a little bit beyond preconceived notions of comfort, belonging or difference.

    the trek back over the border was arduous, long and annoying (we weren’t up to speed on the sentri or passport card), but it was all in all an experience well worth repeating again very soon.

  • camping (version 1.0)

    exciting news: i slept in a tent! for anyone who knows me, this is big news. i’ve never been considered outdoorsy. my idea of outdoorsy fun generally involves dining alfresco or packing the perfect picnic–perhaps light hiking if i’m feeling really sporty. that changed this weekend.

    it was the perfect setup really. i couldn’t sleep so i kept haranguing my partner to get up too. it’s really rather logical: if i can’t sleep, no one else is allowed to either. by about 2 in the morning, he had enough of my pacing and clunking about, the loud typing, deep sighing and of course my inquiries of if he was still asleep or not–it started to wear on him as one might reasonably expect.

    however, his solution to this problem was a novel one–and altogether quite clever. a decision was made that it would be an ideal time to try camping–it would only be for a half a night and we were both exhausted to begin with…meaning i might actually sleep in a tent, at least for an hour or two. while i was aware that this was all part of a master plan to acclimate me to the thought of spending a week hiking and sleeping in a tent in the sequoias, i was too deliriously tired to argue against it–and frankly it sounded more intriguing than any more late night writing and working.

    we almost had it all: a cozy, crackling campfire (on the tv), searching for constellations (via our iphone app), a cool breeze blowing (the vents from the air conditioner hit our tent directly), a toasty sleeping bag and late night conversations. we didn’t have s’mores, so my experience wasn’t quite complete, but it came close. and it was certainly the closest i’ve been to a real camping experience. and it was rather glorious.

    plus there’s really nothing better in the morning than waking up at home, stepping out of the tent and being able to enjoy good coffee and a hot shower. we’ll save the real camping for another day.

  • the future of the past

    changefutureit all started rather innocuously with a decision to transfer my extensive photo library over to the cloud in order to free up some precious space on my laptop. the process of transferring thousands upon thousands of photos was rather hands-on, especially if you wanted to keep them sorted and formatted–and anyone who knows me know how i can be just a tad bit obsessive over these types of details. so suffice it to say, i’ve spent an extensive amount of time going through photos of my life from about age 14 onward in the course of a few days.

    it’s actually shocking to see a younger looking version of myself–i can hardly identify with the person i was even a few months ago, let alone a few years ago. it’s surprising how much things change–the very things we think are immutable are alarming in their transitory nature. at the core, i still do have a few things that have remained true to my personality and believe over the years of my life, but really very few things fall into that category. i feel more like myself now than i ever have before–perhaps it’s just part of growing up? either way, it is strange to think about this person i was before and the many iterations of her–and moreover, how very seldom things are fixed.

    it reminds me of a sign that i’ve had a strong allegiance to over the course of more than 10 years–it’s one i saw originally while traveling abroad and visiting peggy guggenheim’s home turned museum in venice. it reads, in neon nontheless: changing place, changing time, changing thoughts, changing future.  it’s a phrase that’s lived on more than most of myself, or at least, how i think of myself, has lived and is one of the core points i come back to on a regular basis. change is living, breathing, thinking, feeling.

    i like to imagine back to that day in venice–where i was in my life journey, my age, what i believed, who i was–it feels like a distant past, like a jamesian novel, rich with memorable detail but decidely not my life. i think back to my imagined future at that time–what i wished for, dreamed of, thought i wanted–and realize how incredibly difficult it is to predict even the smallest of things about our own lives–things that we to some degree control–in the future. my future is so entirely different than i expected or dreamed of during my first trip to venice, but the sign at the guggenheim house remains true to me.

  • on the edge (but not over)

    lately i’ve become acutely aware of my innate and perverse tendency to adamantly (and sometimes stupidly) confront things that scare me, usually much to my own displeasure. it’s a strange compulsion that i’ve had since i was a child and i simply cannot stop myself from pushing the limits of my own being to the very edge from time to time. sometimes it’s emotional, sometimes it’s mental, sometimes it’s physical, but this time it was rather literal in it’s edginess.

    it all started a few months ago while i was running with a friend who insisted on scrambling up what could only generously be termed a path up the the rocky cliffs of la jolla. i did this twice, had an asthma attack once and both times felt the strongest sense of dread as i skidded along the loose gravelly rocks in my well-worn sneakers, just a few inches at times from sheer drop offs. did i mention i frequently experience vertigo in looking into the kitchen sink?

    so that was several months ago. yesterday it was lovely outside (as per usual in sunny san diego), with warm weather that felt just like summer. i happened to be clad in athletic gear and in la jolla and decided to go for a quick jog on the beach. two and a half hours later i was delirious. but here’s what happened in the interim: i took off at a good clip down the coast of la jolla shores and before i knew it was surrounded by nude men, mostly over the age of 60. it was pretty much the opposite of eye candy in every sense of the word. i had run this route before, but today was different–it was beach weather and the nudists were in full force, playing volleyball, walking jauntily about and were frankly inescapable. i ran faster–i don’t think there’s anything wrong with black’s beach, but suffice it to say, it’s not my scene.

    than i remembered the climb, that i could go up what the numerous warnings signs referred to as “unstable cliffs” and avoid running back through black’s beach on the return. it would be good for me i thought–face this fear, on my own and conquer the mountain. it seems whenever i have major life changes ahead i try to push forward with these types of fear-busting initiatives in an unrelated area of my life.  i was also rather jazzed after having a few people like a quote from kerouac that i posted recently (how sad is that?): “because in the end, you won’t remember the time you spent working in the office or mowing your lawn. climb that goddamn mountain.”

    so i climbed that goddamn mountain. and nearly killed myself in the process–or as someone lovingly put it, nearly became a quadriplegic–a state i would prefer to avoid if possible. it didn’t look too bad, i thought to myself from the ground. i already felt a bit faint after running hard in the heat of the day with little more than some oats and a green juice to sustain me. probably not a good idea i thought to myself. somehow this voice in my head frequently gets overridden by sheer stubbornness. it’s not all that charming of a quality, but it’s true nonetheless.  about a quarter of the way in and several near misses, i decided that this was clearly a very bad idea given my low energy level and lightheadness, my well-worn shoes and the fact that i had no one to spot me if i needed help. upon making this decision, i turned around decisively, only to find that the way down seemed even more risky than the way up. i felt mild panic, did some deep breathing and decided i would just have to continue upward.

    i climbed on my feet and hands nearly the whole way up, with one or both feet sliding out from under me with the dry gravelly earth no less than a dozen times. while i’m sure it can’t be this hard for everyone, i’m rather uncoordinated and tend to not fare well on this type of terrain as a general rule. about half way up i realized i my breath had turned panicky and i was no longer looking ahead to find the best path, just scuttling up the side of rocks without any sense of planning. this was a good way to die i thought to myself and knew i had to calm down and start thinking about staying on the actual path (what little of one there was at least). i thought about the boy i like and about my dog and my family and friends, how much i would miss them, how grateful i would be to just enjoy my life and drink a lemonade if i made it over this, how i would never ever ever do this again. i thought about the story on the news that sounds like a few others i had heard in recent months about girls falling over the sides of cliffs in southern california. i could be one of those girls. granted, it’s truly over-the-top dramatic, but i was terrified to the point of nearly hyperventilating and my mind was running wild. worst of all, i didn’t even have my phone to document the experience.

    somehow there was next to no one on the trail, save for a kind but dorky man in his late 30s who was kind enough to chat with me casually for a few moments, which was essential to me calming down before making the final ascent. i sat down and asked him about his shoes, the silly kind that separate your toes out to build strength in your feet (who cares about strong feet, really? maybe everyone but me.) this tiny bit of human interaction helped–i also was able to watch which route he took for part of the path, which at the time was immensely helpful. i sat and meditated for a few minutes, regaining my breath and a modicum of clarity and focus.

    long story short, i made it up the side of the mountain. on the way back, i received a round of applause and a bevy of high fives–it was almost as if these kind beach people knew what i had been through and were congratulating me for my courage. in reality, they were just some fratty boys that i would never acknowledge under normal circumstances, but this time i was gleeful–tipping my hat, big smile and one high five after the next. i made it up the mountain and back on my own–and the lemonade has never tasted so good.

  • desert dreaming

    after my jaunt to salvation mountain i’ve been craving the dry desert air, but more of the poolside with cocktail variety. and what better place for that than palm springs?

  • made it to the mountain

    it feels like i’ve been talking about it forever, but i finally made it to salvation mountain, just a few short weeks after the death of it’s creator, leonard knight. as a generally optimistic person, my expectations are usually quite high and are rarely exceeded–but this journey was an exception.

    i received a detailed email that read as a travelogue of one of your hippest friends, someone who knows and loves the area with a kind of intimacy that is unmistakable and hard to replicate. these bits of insider information guided us through the first half of our desert venture, until we reached the stone tower of in-koh-pah, where we spent what felt like a great deal of time talking about the state of agriculture, drought and politics with the caretaker of the tower. surrounded by his (five that we counted) dogs from the moment we stepped out of the car, we knew quite quickly that we weren’t in kansas–or at least not the california that we knew–any longer. it was barren, desolate, the colors of the sky and earth faded and melding together seamlessly. after a quick photo shoot, we were ready to get back on the road to our primary destination, not without a warning from the kindly (if rather chatty) caretaker, who advised us that under no circumstances should we spend the night there–he made us promise that we’d be back in san diego, or at least leaving the desert by nightfall. this didn’t bode well for us–we had already been warned by said hip travelogue friend that he and his than-girlfriend had a gun pulled on them during one of their desert ventures. this was concerning for two reasons (and probably many more): one being that i’m not very scrappy and would probably rather die than try to fight violently for my life and two, that this gun was pulled on two people who are probably the least threatening, most peaceable people i know–and certainly not flashy. luckily i felt somewhat safe with my friend in tow–although she’s incredibly girlish in some ways, i also felt fairly convinced that she could be fierce, or at least more so than i, if need be. it was still not horribly reassuring, but we pressed onward.

    we stepped out of the car for a quick bathroom/stretch break at a nearby rest stop and were distrubed to notice that all of the vending machines were behind not one, but two sets of bars. we wondered if they were even operable. this seemed like a bad sign. we got a snack, thought briefly of the implications and headed further into the east. i somehow failed to mention that at this point we were no longer following our gps, but an alternate route given to use by the man at the tower, who cited it as “more scenic”–why we decided to heed his advice, i’m still not quite sure. we ended up at the sonny bono center at the south tip of the salton sea. it was ok. we were back in the car after 15 minutes of intense heat coupled with an even more intense stench.

    after switching back to gps and consulting a makeshift map from the wildlife center, we were again on the path to the mountain. after flying by the easily missed main street and doing a u-turn in the middle of a deserted highway in what looked to be an abandoned town and passing a hazardous waste facility and a state prison, we finally saw a glimpse of bright candy colors on the horizon.

    as we pulled up to the mountain and scrambled out of our air-conditioned comfort, i was struck not only by the flat, bold hues that contrasted so dramatically with the dim landscape, but also with the scale of this so-called mountain–it felt so small, so nearly insignificant again the expansive stretches of desert. while we sojourned to see what we both considered an important contemporary art project, there were many there who could be considered true believers, making a pilgrimage in a different devotional sense. after a few photos and a bit of rambling around the shrines, we were soon approached by a volunteer clad all in desert khaki and a floppy hat, a man that decidedly fell into the true believer camp. while my partner in crime tuned out, i couldn’t help but be drawn into his story, wishing desperately that i could whip out my notebook without alarming him or stifling his stream-of-consciousness speech. he told us the story of leonard, how he slept in his truck through the 110 degree desert heat, how he was saved and felt unworthy, how he made two other attempts to spread the good news–he referred to these as mistakes numbers one and two. the first mistake was constructing his own hot air balloon, which he deemed to be the largest in the world, adorned with god’s message. it didn’t work. the second mistake was creating a giant concrete wall with the word “repent” emblazoned on it in bold. it crumbled at the current site of the mountain. both of the these mistakes were attributed as errors due to leonard telling god what he wanted to do, rather than asking god what he wanted from leonard. as the volunteer told it, when leonard finally asked god what he wanted from him, the response was salvation mountain.

    at the end of this story and after fielding a few questions, the volunteer began his pitch, although it was different than i had anticipated. growing up in the south, i had heard stories like this before and felt prepared for almost anything. that was, until he asked us to come volunteer for a work weekend on the mountain. samantha and i exchanged a look. he definitely had pegged us wrong–with marc jacobs flats, immaculately polished nails and a penchant for decent dining and comfortable temperatures–as well as an aversion to hard physical labor, he had found the wrong girls to pitch this too. we couldn’t help but giggle and demur his offer. while we both love art, this was not going to be out outlet for it, despite his solicitous appeal and promise of a mid-day pizza party.

    we eventually managed to excuse ourselves from the evangelical volunteer and made our way up the yellow brick road to the top, and only than realized that it was all a facade, wondering if the irony was realized or lost entirely. before we got back into the car, i took one last look–it was likely to be the one and only time i was ever in this special place–at least in it’s current state–it had just been repainted a few days before we had arrived. the message “love is universal” struck me. it was settled, i liked leonard. it was such a great disappointment that i hadn’t made it there before his passing, but the pilgrimage was still a journey i won’t soon forget. it made me wonder about the lines we draw between people that are mad, people that are true believe, people that are artists, people that are simply, incredibly passionate. it’s a fine line by any standard, one that sometimes blurs into uncharted territory. thinking back on it though, all the lines seem rather arbitrary anyways.

    before heading home, we drove through slab city, a bit too concerned by leering groups of hitchhikers to get out of the locked car. it would probably be fine, but we were both hot, tired and not wanting to risk it. we drove about, snapped a few photos and felt incredibly tempted to try the oasis lounge–it was like the upside-down version of palm springs. as we drove back across the desert, i couldn’t help but feel pulled by a deep longing–i really did want a drink at the oasis lounge. it wouldn’t be unlike walking on the moon for me in a world foreign to my understanding.

  • from gardens to gelato: adventures in florence

    January 28, 2014 No tags Permalink 0

    “everything about florence seems to be coloured with a mild violet, like diluted wine.” –henry james

    i’ve held a deep, abiding love for the city of florence since my first visit when i was just fifteen years old. i remember always feeling horribly out of place in my small southern town and i vividly remember that florence was the first place on earth that ever felt like home, that there was a sense of belonging to something bigger than what my current life experience allowed. as i first walked along the arno, i had the powerful realization that there was something more out there for me, that the world was bigger, broader, more immersive than i had previously anticipated. it was an awakening of sorts, and one that strikes me every time i visit one of the most charming towns italy has to offer.

    it’s really no surprise that i ended up studying abroad in florence, studying italian in school to compliment my dante scholarship and love for italian renaissance art. i lived on the oltrarno, still my favorite part of the city by far, one bursting with far more character than the more famed walkways that line the city proper. it’s also the neighborhood with some of my favorite haunts, including the lovely little sandwich shop, gustapanino, operated by perhaps the most spirited proprietors, who still insists on popping open a bottle of prosecco while i wait for my panini. it’s simple, cheap and an all-together delightful experience to sip a glass of bubbles than eat the perfect sandwich whilst sunning yourself on the steps of santo spirito. it’s nice to know some things truly don’t change, even though the circumstances surrounding them do. it was the same with my old neighborhood café that i trekked to almost every morning: i was intensely happy to note that it was the same barista as i had had nearly five years before, the one with the gray ponytail who still teased me about my order in the same way—reminded me that lattes after 10:00 am are strictly for children. he’s the one who first made me realize that a cappuccino was much more me—and it’s still my go-to drink, although i did order a latte for old time’s sake.

    the city is always beautiful, but incredibly so at christmastime, with the beautiful fir in the square, the twinkling lights (and even chandeliers!) that drape over the city streets, to the abundance of vin chaud on many a corner. better still, there’s far fewer tourists than over the summer months, making for a more relaxed atmosphere. although i’m not religious, i was determined to partake in midnight mass at the duomo, where i led tours during my time studying there. it’s a special building to me, one at the heart of much of my research and history with the great city, so to sit through a nearly three hour mass didn’t seem quite so daunting as it normally might for me. the experience was incredible—in all the time i had spent over the years in the massive cathedral, i had never heard the organ or choir echo through the halls, which brought the building to life in an entirely different way for me. the pomp and circumstance of the processionals were fascinating, even with a lack of cultural understanding of some of the significance—perhaps made even more interesting due in part to my ignorance.

    my favorite spot by far in florence is the magical and mystical forest surrounding san miniato al monte, as well as the graveyard that runs alongside it. it’s inexplicably special to me, which led me to make the trek up the hill nearly every single day, through rain or shine for a solitary stroll—it’s made even more lovey as there is rarely anyone else there. it’s a place that can be both horribly romantic and terrifying simultaneously—to put it simply, it’s special, at least for me. it’s also quite close to piazza michelangelo, and well worth wandering over to if you’re already up there.

    of course, no trip would be complete without a visit to a grocery store, one of my favorite places to explore while in foreign lands. my grocer of choice for italy is the esselunga supermarket chain, a place that i both dreaded and loved going to while i lived abroad. this time around, i mainly loved it as i understood it a bit better—from the gloves for picking produce to the rapid fire in which you must pack your groceries away, it felt somewhat easier this time around. it also made me grateful to have a wonderful kitchen in the flat i rented so i could try out some of the ingredients on my own.

    that being said, i did my fair share of dining out while in florence, frequenting several of my favorite haunts, with a specific preference for i tarocchi, which was literally the best lunch of my life for 11 euros coupled with the kindest, most attentive service in a warm and inviting atmosphere. the pear pasta is a must-order if it’s in season, along with their incredible tiramisu. i also adore the chicness of la bussola, a lovely wine bar/restaurant that’s stood the test of time in the heart of the city and always offers excellent bottles by the glass. i also indulged in gelato, with a rule of having at least one a day, sometimes, i’m embarrassed to admit, more. my go-to places are grom and festival del gelato—both very good, both very different interpretations.

    florence is also rich in some of the world’s best vintage shopping, as you might imagine for a city chockfull of italian designers. i especially love designs by odette and twin-set (not vintage, but very florentine), as well as street doing vintage coutureboutique nadineceri vintagemidinettelady jane b…and the list goes on. melrose vintage is also a must visit. you basically can’t go wrong with vintage in florence—it’s everywhere and mostly very high-quality, carefully-curated finds. as far as shopping goes, i also stumbled upon falsi gioielli, a playful and exuberant jewelry store with everything made on site. wanting to look but not shop? the ferragamo museum is a must for anyone who adores an artfully made pair of shoes—it’s seriously an education.

    during my time in italy, i found myself accidentally speaking french, much to my chagrin. thankfully, most italians are very forgiving and friendly people, especially after i corrected myself in italian. it’s strange how your sense of language can shift, even after a few days of immersion.

    no visit to florence would be complete without a visit to the uffizi gallery (buying tickets in advance is a must!) to see some of the most classic examples of renaissance art at its best, as well as to take in the beauty of the building itself. extra credit: go to the café patio and enjoy an espresso and the city skyline on a sunny day. it’s also essential to set aside at least an afternoon to explore the boboli gardens and palazzo pitti—the gardens are absolutely magical, like something straight out of alice in wonderland with beautiful sculptures around every corner and more hidden, maze-like walkways than you can count. beyond beautiful and perfect for picnicking in the summer months.

  • excerpts on italy

    January 23, 2014 No tags Permalink 0

    she chose not to speak italian that night–for once she was tired and taking the easy way out. it felt like a foreign concept.

    her responsibilities were limited to occupying her time as she best saw fit, amusing herself with museums and gardens, shopping and gelato, aimlessly walking about to see what caught her eye, getting up when she pleased, neglecting any sort of strenuous workout mentally or physically. reading and watching movies, working intermittently on her various “projects.” dancing in a state of undress and singing loudly to every bad song she loved. kodachrome topped the list–she made  up her own lyrics, far more colorful than paul simon might have imagined. she frequently wore two layers of sweaters, many adorned with hearts literally on the sleeve, and sat by the stove with both burners turned to full blast to keep her hands warm enough to write.

  • c’est super! exploring paris in the winter

    January 22, 2014 No tags Permalink 0

    “you belong to me and all paris belongs to me and i belong to this notebook and this pencil.” –ernest hemingway, a moveable feast

    as a writer and a literature fanatic, i can’t help but think of hemingway whenever i think of paris. i set off on my solo holiday journey to the city of light with him in mind, with the intention of writing intently, without interruption or distraction, a romantic notion to say the least, as paris is a city full of the most delightful of distractions. from coffee and champagne to the simplest pleasure of people watching, paris absolutely does not disappoint.

    when i arrived in paris, i immediately knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that i should have packed my charcoal cocoon coat—my kelly green wool peacoat and my american tendency to smile at everyone made me instantly standout in the sea of black, gray and navy outerwear. even the children had on chicer coats than i. it was a bit mortifying, but easily remedied by a trip to le bon marche, where i also enjoyed the spectacular christmas displays, including all white and gilt floor of trees. whilst shopping, i loved watching the little french dogs parade about with their owners, so much like my own little dog, although perhaps just a wee bit more sedated and aloof. they are french dogs after all.

    i ate immense amounts of oysters, chevre chaud and crepes of all sorts, as well as an ungodly number of pain au chocolat. i spent a great deal of time lounging and sipping cappuccinos at louistic and telescope, both establishments run by the most charming people you’re likely to ever meet. louistic features a 70s lounge vibe that was beyond inviting, making for a wonderful place to while away a few hours.

    although i’ve been to paris several times before, i had never managed to make it to sacre coeur, which was a priority for this trip. i journeyed there with a few friends that i happened to meet up with and made it to the top just in time to see the sun set over the eiffel tower. my french lessons were incredibly useful on the trip and i came to realize i could speak more conversationally than i had initially anticipated—a nice surprise to say the least. while i have an intense love of the english language, it was fun to be able to use the language skills that took such immense amounts of time to gain.

    i spent many hours simply wandering and walking about as i pleased, which is one of the chief pleasures in my life. i of course strolled through le marais and did a bit of window (and um, real) shopping, walked the pont des arts (bridge with the locks—so touristy, but for good reason!) and spent an obscene amount of time in the tuilieries and jardin de luxembourg taking photos and people watching. while searching the 10 and 11ème for one of the few gluten free pastry shops in paris for a friend, we stumbled upon the most delightful shop i’ve ever seen: objet celeste. incredibly beautiful, impeccably curated and filled to the brim with little treasures ranging from jewelry to small home décor items. practically perfect in every way.

    on recommendation, i also made a point to visit deyrolle, which a friend billed as “taxidermy, but classy.” i was skeptical to say the least, but it turned out to be one of the more inspiring parts of my parisian adventure. i was especially moved by the beautiful butterfly collections, which looked like something straight from a damian hirst piece. utterly lovely and amazing and definitively a must visit.

    my deep and abiding love of art museums lead me to a six hour sojourn in the pompidou, a museum i had strangely never visited on prior trips. the collection (if perhaps not the curation) was magnificent, with everything you could possibly hope for in a modern art museum. between the incredible views, the architecture of the museum itself, a delectable restaurant (georges) and a special exhibition on surrealism, the pompidou certainly captured my heart.

    see original post written for fanartism at http://fanartism.tumblr.com/post/73703633301/cest-super-explore-paris-with-kristine-page.