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."


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?


  1. I bet your reading was beyond wonderful, I for one cannot wait to get my hands on a (signed... you better sign it!) copy of your book. And then after it's been turned into a screenplay, I will photobomb all over the red carpet. x.

    1. A screenplay. That would be nice wouldn't it? IF that happened I would SO be photobombing with you or watching it drunk at a bar somewhere. No one cares about the writers. : )

      Thank you for this sweet comment. : )

  2. I totally commented on your last post, grrr.

    That almond cheese looks good! I'm a bit confused about what you do with the liquid you collect though??

    You've been lucky if you're only just saying goodbye to your first expat friend! I've had to do it heaps and of course I've been the one leaving too. It's hard.

    1. I don't know what's wrong with my blog. Comments tend to get eaten up! I'm sure whatever you wrote was insightful and full of Gwan as usual. YOU were an amazing friend to me at my wedding. I was thinking of you (as well as the other girls you and I mutually know) when I wrote that my new friends floored me with their kindness. Thank you.

      The cheese is strained on cheese cloth (or in my case an old t-shirt) for a day and then slow baked for 7 hours to create a "rind". If you want to give it a try go to my friend's blog that I linked up. It's a time consuming project but super easy!

      Saying goodbye sucks but you're right; I am lucky that after 4 years I have only had to do it once.

    2. I hope the good friends outnumbered the bad! I know you won't let that take away from your memories of the day, I'm just sorry that they weren't all good because mine definitely were!

      Howwww is it so long since your wedding by the way? I'm going to have to find an excuse for a trip to Paris sometime!

  3. love the month you are having...December was fine until last night when I had to go to emerg have giant wrapped thumb....

    1. Oh no! I'm so sorry to hear that. I hope your injury is not too grave and the recipe was worth the trouble. : ) I hope your thumb has a speedy recovery!

  4. Damnit, I want your December. Well, except the last part, sorry about that bit, but mine's been mostly shit with a mere soupcon of good night out last Friday!

    1. Oooooh what happened last Friday? Sounds delicious and naughty!

    2. Oh, we just finally had a successful work night out where we ate, drank and were merry, and I got a free lift home without having to fight a taxi queue, always a bonus :oD

  5. OMG!!! Finish your book and get it out there!!!!

    1. Thank you so much Samantha for your encouragement! It means a lot coming from you. Congratulations of landing your agent! Such an inspiration. : )

  6. Congratulations on your reading!! I know that one day I'll see a book from you. I can feel it. I'm so glad you got the laughs you wanted. I hope that encourages you to continue on your manuscript.

    As for the film tour, I've read about it and it sounds wonderful. I visited the little cafe where Amelie was filmed and it was magical. The food wasn't that good, and now I know I should have just gone for a noisette! However, the server was just so very charming. He even complimented my French. And my French sucks.

    Your blog inspires me to continue my quest to learn French and to save my money for a return trip. Merci.

    1. Thank you Madeleine! I chip away at it everyday, so here is hoping to produce something you can hold and read one day. It has been my dream from the very start of this Paris experience.

      The film tour is fantastic! I highly recommend it to anyone coming to Paris (even if they aren't huge film buffs), it's such a comfortable way to see Paris, especially during the cold season and the founder Abby is just a delight. She gives on great tour!

      I have heard the Amelie cafe is expensive, not very good, and actually, I have heard the servers are rude. But I'm glad you got a nice server! I much prefer the bar just diagonal from it called Luxe Cafe.

      Learn French! Is there an Alliance Française nearby? That's where I started (the NYC location) and it really prepared me for France. It's such a fun hobby to take on. Do it! : )

    2. Yes, the Amelie cafe was expensive for lunch! And sorry for being too lazy to type out its actual name. I've noticed that some people who write reviews about the cafe blast it for not looking like it did in the movie. Well, what do you expect? Of course they made it look different for the movie. However, it's still an old, charming cafe. I would recommend just getting coffee at the bar though. I think we spent 50 euros for lunch for two that we didn't enjoy eating.

      I would love to use an Alliance Francaise, but there's not one near me. I did, however, watch "Christmas Vacation" dubbed in French recently. Chevy Chase sounding like a French was indeed funny. I also practice on Duolingo, listen to Living Language CDs, watch French shows and movies on Netflix, listen to French music, and I'm also attempting my first French children's book. It's difficult though. The sounds sometimes escape me, but that's probably because I need to break down and get a hearing aid. I'm only 39, but have moderate hearing loss. I struggle sometimes to understand people speaking English, so French, very difficult!

  7. I love this post and I love Jenna's piece you linked to! Totally crying! So happy that both of you ladies are prime examples of how we need to spend every moment doing what we love. Thank you for the reminder.

    1. Thank you for your comment Cara. So sweet. I really do love how we all inspire each other. Such a healthy community we have going!

  8. Jenna's gone?! That explains why Paris felt so flat and lifeless when I woke up this morning. I kept hoping that she would change her mind at the last minute.

    Your reading at words & wine was spectacular. You're a natural! Thanks for sharing the first chapter of your book with us. I predict that it's going to be a HUGE success!

    Saying goodbye to expat friends sucks. There's no other way to put it. The only way that I can console myself for the loss of so many friends from so many expat assignments is to remind myself that I would have never met any of them if I had stayed in one place. Still, it doesn't ease the pain! Over the years, I've encountered people who refuse to be friends with expats because it hurts too much when they leave.

    Did Hemingway or T.S. Eliot ever show up? We waited for hours on those steps hoping that they would! ;) Thanks for mentioning my post about Abby's Set in Paris movie tour. Stephane and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

    Happy holidays!

    1. Yes, our sweet Jenna is gone. This was supposed to happen last year, so I'm glad we all got a bonus year with her.

      Thank you so much, Mary-Kay. I actually enjoyed reading it. Who knew? After the first page, I eased into it. You all helped with your laughter, encouraging me to act out the dialogue a bit. (You can take the girl out of LA...)

      If anyone knows what it is like to say goodbye, it is certainly you. This is my first experience and it's really sad. I wasn't expecting to feel so down. But it is what it is and one day I will be the one leaving. We actually don't intend on staying in France forever...

      No, they did not show up! To be fair, I didn't wait longer than 2 minutes though. It was freezing that day!

      I loved this tour! Thank you for sending Abby my way. Je l'adore!

  9. I can't believe I missed the reading of your first chapter! I'm so so sad. Can I have a private reading over drinks in January? Two year anniversary drinks that is! x

    1. Sylvia asked us like 24 hours before! Which was good; no build-up, no over-thinking, but it all happened so fast.

      It will be our two year anniversary in January! Wow, time flies. Where should we go? And no, I will not read you my book. That sounds like the worst girl's date ever! Can you imagine?

  10. I had a great time celebrating (the first two weeks of) December with you! Your impromptu party was a fabulous way to end my stay in Paris, just as you helped to shape my life in Paris into something wonderful and memorable. Quelle joie de vivre!!

    Love and miss you!! xojenna

    1. Awww Jenna! I'm glad I was able to spend the first leg of the holidays with you as well. We had such a fun year, starting with that random night at that hotel bar across the street from Serge Gainsbourg's house. What WAS that night? I ended up not writing about it. Bad me.

      Enjoy your time with your family. I look forward to seeing what 2014 brings you!


  11. Since starting my new job, working most evenings as well, by December I was burnt out! No holiday parties for me (except the few with the fam), I just want to sleep. X_X

    I love your photo booth! Such a good idea!

    Looks like your doing well- I'm very happy for you Lisa!

    I haven't been able to keep up with your blog the past few months bc of work. Don't worry though I always come back. :) I love your writing and your life!

    Best wishes ~

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