connect!

my 2013.

 Paris, jus t'aime!

A current trend in popular thinking is that Instagram photos are just one big show-off fest, that these curated and staged photos somehow force others, by comparison, to experience dissatisfaction in their own lives. Many of the articles touching on this have been satires (at least I hope?) but part of me suspects an element of truth to it. 

I guess I just don't understand it. I live by the rule that when we compare we despair, and the experiences of others should not reflect upon our own. We all travel on our own path, right? 

When I click on that icon, I expect to be inspired, I want to see interesting cocktails and dishes, I still want to see the damn Eiffel Tower, and I want to see my friends having amazing experiences. Isn't that a huge part of life? Being happy for others?

This year, IG is offering a fantastic best-of slideshow for users to share with their followers. Because I don't communicate with quite a handful of you on social media, I thought I would bring my favorite moments of 2013 here. Again, these are merely snippets of my year, and the in between photos (if they existed) would be washing dishes, doing laundry, watching Melrose Place (the original!) reruns, and having children cough on me.

2013 for me was about appreciating the little joys in life, so here are a few of my favorite moments. 

Okay, not exactly a "little joy", 
but how can I do a "best of 2013" without mention of our wedding?

Speaking of weddings, it only took me four months later to understand all of the Breaking Bad jokes going on.
 Why Aurelién (a big BB fan) didn't suggest that baby blue rock crystal candy as place settings was a bad idea still boggles me.
I love the show, but blue meth place cards?! Oy.


2013 was the year that I braved these rolling Parisian death traps.


Holding on tight to old friendships with the belief that it was impossible to make new ones. Relinquishing those feelings, I finally opened myself up to new friends and acquaintances here.
The result? Why didn't I do it sooner?


Organized a "Sparkle" party to celebrate 
Cara Alwill Leyba's first visit to Paris.

 Celebrated National Kale Day at Verjus.

Clinked to Juliette Sobanet at words + wine

 Caught up with the girls at the Prete-Moi Paris 
4 Year Anniversary party.

Celebrated the French translation of
Owen Martell's novel "Intermission" at Autrement Publishing House


And I also enjoyed some alone time. 
Despite my big mouth, this is actually one of my pastimes...






I also revisited some of my old haunts...






Learned what to do with this little shop of horror!

Enjoyed simple pleasures during my two week stay at my mom's...



I also spent time with my new family...
 
The Official Champagne Break Station
at the Father's Day Badminton Tournament.
Guess whose idea that was. 

 Spring in Fontainebleau


 Autumn in Fontainebleau

And with friends who have become family...

I finally obtained my titre de séjour.
Again, not a "little joy", but a huge relief.

 (I think he thought we were hitting on him. N'importe quoi.)

 And of course, did a bunch of entertaining....
 The indoor anniversary picnic.


 
  Celebrated a friend getting her French nationality!


 



I also realized that I am not at all funny in French.
2 rounds of Cards Against Humanity en français 
made this pretty clear.

It was a fantastic year of reflection, growing into myself by listening to my gut feeling, and truly appreciating who and what is around me. Here is to a fantastic 2014!

I wish you all a Happy (and safe!) New Year!

I thank you all for your support these past few years. 
Thank you for reading.

xo.

merry christmas from paris.



So here we are, two days before Christmas. Have you gotten all of your shopping done? I am pleased to announce that I finished last week and am officially enjoying my holiday vacation (as pictured below.)


The best way to share an experience is through taste. This year, I offered slices of my life in Paris to friends and family in New York with bottles of pink crémant that I adorned with Eiffel Tower key chains tied around the neck, tin boxes of Kusmi tea, Parisis Bière de Noël (Paris-brewed Christmas beer!), chocolates and tablettes with crushed roses from my favorite pâtissier Sébastien Gaudard, and a 2004 Haut-Médoc from my local wine shop.

I hope my family and friends enjoy a little bit of Paris in New York, while we enjoy the opposite effect and sip on California wine, eat Stove-Top cranberry stuffing, and stream the Long Island Christmas station here in France.

I'm sending you all an early Joyeux Noël from Paris. To kick off the festivities, I give you my homemade compilation of my favorite holiday songs, starting off with my beloved "Dominick the Donkey".

Merry Christmas!

 















 Listen to the Christmas playlist here

the december dynamic.

I am usually helpless to the month of December, but this year it has completely captured me. I can be found somewhere in a frenzied flurry of holiday parties, fine-tuning projects, writing assignments, my mother's weekly visits, our home holiday film fest, decorating, baking, and work! I can't keep up!

It's no wonder why we get depressed in January. Suddenly all of the excitement just stops. It's awful.

Not wanting to entertain the stillness that lies ahead of us, here is a recap of what has been going on in my City of Light:

Photo by Lilian Lau.

Last week, alongside the extremely talented, word magician Jenna-Marie Warnecke, I read an excerpt of my work at Paris literary salon words + wine.

In all honesty, I wasn't sure if I was going to do it. Not because I didn't want to help out a dear friend but because the thought of reading my work to a room full of strangers terrified me. Public speaking isn't exactly my strong point.

Jenna, however, confirmed her participation with an enthusiasm that from arrondissements was contagious. Joining in, I too responded with a "oui."

Oy.

Going through piles of my essays, blog posts, and notebook scribblings, I was not sure what piece of work I was going to read. What would Paris' literary set who are coming out to listen to the works of the understudies appreciate?

Wanting one last bang for 2013, I opted for the scariest: a beta read of the first chapter of my manuscript that I had been chipping away at. While there is still tons of work ahead of me and I could hardly say I have a polished manuscript ready to send out, the audience gave me the response I was looking for: laughter. And it felt pretty much incredible. 

Girl's Guide to Paris has also kept me busy out in the city covering events to write for the site. I took a tour at the fine jewelry house Mauboussin, giving me an excuse to head to Place Vendôme (an area I don't frequent) to enjoy a little Christmas cheer.



I also went on a fantastic movie tour with the new tour group Set in Paris. Just to name a few, the tour covered Sex and the City, Gossip Girl, Midnight in Paris and Amélie film locations in the comfort of a cozy tour bus, with Abigail our witty guide who was brimming with fun trivia and gossip. Cinephiles coming to Paris, this tour is for you. 

I'm still working on my article for the Girl's Guide, but for those who need instant gratification, you can check out Mary-Kay's write up on Out and About in Paris.


And because it is the holiday season,
I threw an impromptu holiday party with friends where I served...

Lorimer Street Kitchen Toasted Almond Cheese
Or as I like to call it: "Faux-mage"
The "cheese" made up of crushed almonds even got the stamp of approval from the French! No joke. This recipe is a must-try!

And no party would be complete without a photo booth.
Je vous présente the Snowflake Photo Booth 2013!


As you can guess, the photos get sloppier, stranger, and sluttier as the night progressed, to be recorded as a batch of holiday memories shared with people I truly love. The night's end had me in tears because I was forced to say goodbye to Jenna who left yesterday morning to return to America indefinitely. 

I have always heard that having to always say goodbye is the hardest part of being an expat, but not having had experienced it before, I never understood what the big deal was. Now I understand and it hurts so much more than I would have ever imagined. Damn it.

To honor her two years in Paris, I will end this post in her own words with her beautifully written piece Éphémère.

Thank you Jenna for being the friend I always knew I was destined to meet. 

So, what about you? 
How has your December been treating you?

be brave.

be-brave

As 2013 comes to an end, I succumb to the old cliché of looking back on the year. And what a year it was. So many changes. And I am not just referring to getting married, which incidentally was the easiest transition to slide into.

One of my favorite songs of the year is "Brave" by Sara Bareilles. The song about having the courage to stop holding your tongue in fear of what others may think sort of became my anthem for 2013.

As I grow into my 30s, I have become unapologetic for who I am and for how I feel. I finally trust my feelings. Who knew that would be such a challenge? If something bothers me, I have the courage to speak up. If something or someone doesn't feel right, it's usually for a reason that ends up revealing itself. As obvious as this all seems, I struggled with this for most of my life. As a former people-pleaser, I was that person who kept my mouth shut especially with friends, reducing my feelings as petty drama. The 30-year-old me calls bullshit.

My wedding was a big turning point for me; new friends impressed me with their genuine concern for me on what is considered a big day; and a few old friends, well proved to be just that, old friends. Insulting my in-laws by assuming they were stupid for not speaking perfect English, stopping my French friends from doing special things for me because that is "not how it is done in America", complaining that their beds that my sister-in-law and I made for them were uncomfortable, and lastly, telling me that my wedding day was not about me was more than enough evidence, forcing me to look closer.

I had a choice to make: Speak up with the hopes of reaching a resolution (maybe there was an explanation?), or hold it in which inevitably would result in me talking about it behind their backs, because let's be honest, it's one or the other. We're not robots, we need to purge our emotions. Because I deemed them as true friends who deserved honesty as well as not wanting to be a portrait of my past, I spoke up. 

I got deleted on Facebook.

As uncomfortable as speaking up was, I still don't regret it. It taught me that a true friend will allow you to speak the truth, not try to manipulate you by pulling at random, irrelevant facts, getting other people involved, and deleting you on Facebook just to desperately prove that your feelings are wrong. In a world where everyday we are building our acceptance and tolerance of others, how is it that some of us cannot accept the views of others without shaming them?

2013 introduced me how to be brave and to speak my mind. 2014 will solidify it.

Have you ever been forced to be brave?

an early christmas present.

present

Ho, ho, ho! Christmas came early for me! I received my first gift! No this isn't going to be an annoying post about how Aurélien presented with some super thoughtful gift to kick off the season, that I will be presented with a special gift everyday until the 25th, and that my life is just perfect. No. We actually don't exchange gifts. This first gift isn't tangible. And it came unexpectedly from little Thomas and Franck.

Last Thursday, after collecting them from school, the little guys were all atwitter about having seen me the night before with Père Noël. Me with Santa? What were they talking about? I haven't seen him in years.

Ignoring the fact that they're four, I pressed them for more details, expecting a coherent and plausible response. (You'd think I had no experience with kids.) But because they are four, I was only offered this vague idea that I was with Santa Claus in their living room and I was very happy. Since they were both firmly attesting to it, I knew it could not have been a dream, but I was going to have to wait for the parents to come home to explain.

Careful not to forget, in purple marker I jotted down on my hand "me, Santa, why, how, ask" which invited your garden-variety of kid questions.

7 pm arrived and the parents walked in. How could I ask this without sounding completely insane? I asked myself. Also not wanting to to come across strangely eager, I breezily asked if par hasard they heard any news about, you know, me and Père Noël. Much to my joy, they actually had an answer for me!

The parents said that the kids saw this which elicted my name to be chanted:

Just like when I used to think Mick Jagger was my dad and my grandfather was Frank Sinatra, my little French ones think I'm a young Mariah Carey (who in my opinion appears to be completely drunk) in the "All I Want For Christmas Is You" video. God bless them. And merry Christmas to me.