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la vie en rose

It's raining outside. A light, romantic drizzle--the kind that makes a tinkling sound on the roof, that makes the light from streetlamp (the one I can see from my wrought-iron balcony, hazy beyond a sheer curtain in that perfect shade of French blue) look moody and picture-perfect. Down the street is a tempting array of choices--patiserries, a fromagerie, a number of bistros in that iconic red. Perhaps the oyster bar will tempt me to visit for a late night snack. But right now I am full. La vie en rose, Edith Piaf sang, and while she did not mean rose wine, I am taking it as license to enjoy as many glasses as possible. I think my favorite one of the day was shared with my cousin (Francine, your French is marvelous) in an incredibly comfortable, low-slung chair that gave us a beautiful view of the Seine.

"...and life will always be la vie en rose." In Paris, I could almost believe it to be possible.

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(mis)adventures in travel

Menu on plane: Pudding* (Choice of passionfruit cheesecake or cheese and crackers)

Me: Ooh, how to choose between pudding and cheesecake? Hmm... (Stress out for a good minute, trying to determine what would make my stomach happy.)

Menu on plane: *Pudding is what the British call dessert.


Shop-that-shall-remain-nameless has great stuff from window. Lots of options, some well-cut coats, a skirt that catches my eye. Looks like a good place to browse! I enter...

(Within five seconds...)

Me: Why does everyone here walk with a stoop and have white hair?

Me: slinks out


Husband: ...and an order of the Scottish egg.

Server: Pardon?

Me: (too loudly) SCOTCH egg!

Server thinks I am yelling at her and not my husband, who, clearly, is the target of my exasperation.

Server (not so nice now): Right then.


Hobbling out of our very trendy hotel.

Me: Excuse me, do you by any chance have a Band-Aid?

Receptionist: Sorry?

Me: makes ineffectual slapping motions on hand (when did this become charades-speak for Band-Aid?) and contemplates singing the jingle Um...

Husband: For cuts? Sticky thing for cuts?

Receptionist: Oh! A bpblaster!

Me: B-p-laster? (not sure if she meant blaster or plaster so trying to say b and p at the same time in a knowledgeable manner even as I think this is not a smart name for a Band-Aid)

Once we are out of earshot...

Husband: Band-Aid is a brand name, honey.

No duh!

Me: I know. So what do they call them at Walgreens? Hyaluronic something, I think. Hydraluronic... Hyalonic... Blaster/plaster sounds dumb.

(With my fabulous sense of hearing, it was probably neither. But I refuse to cheat and Google it. I will instead learn it from another British human being.)


It goes from sprinkling to torrential downpour in less than a minute--but we will not be deterred! We will make it on the train to the Tower of London!

This one isn't funny, just a moral lesson, really. When your husband says he does not need you to pack him an umbrella, pack him one. Otherwise he will insist on "sharing" (ie he magically gets 2/3 of it while you are stuck with a measly 1/5. And yes, I know the math doesn't add up, but that is really how it feels).

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plane (never plain) reading


With any trip, one of the questions forefront in my mind is What on earth am I going to read on the plane? This is one of the few times that reading quickly does not work in my favor. And with a loooong flight ahead of me, I am more concerned than usual.

Thankfully, some of my very favorite authors are releasing books this month. Imagine my delight when I discovered that Sherry Thomas has not one but two books out, The Hidden Blade and My Beautiful Enemy (released just today--the former is a prequel to the latter) while Courtney Milan has The Suffragette Scandal. Icing on the cake? Susan Elizabeth Phillips has Heroes are My Weakness arriving on August 26th, which will be the perfect thing to unwind to post-trip.

The funny thing is that I don't actually like any of the plots of these books, and I'm not particularly impressed with what I know of the heroines and their leading men. But after long, happy relationships with these writers, I trust that I will fall into the story--and be ridiculously happy doing so--nonetheless.

Now to not touch these books until I actually leave. This is the hardest part!

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the in between


While I recognize that I get more excited about things than the average human being (or at least my husband), I can't be the only one who sometimes feels like they are antsy and ready to jump out of their skin when a trip is looming, can I?

The packing list has been made, everything that there was to plan has been planned, and there is nothing left to do but wait. Just...wait.

(I've never been a particularly patient person. This era of instant gratification works extremely well for me.)

It would be so much easier to just keep on willing the time away, but I find myself not wanting to do that. As a planner, there is always something next for me--an elusive dinner reservation, a trip, an actual life goal (it isn't all food and cocktails although there definitely is a lot of that). And I finally recognize that there is so much time in between one point to the next. I don't want to look back and think of all those moments squandered simply because I could not be bothered to sit and enjoy and feel.

So this week I'm making an effort to savor the time I have at home, wrapping up on work to make things lighter during the trip ahead. Home-cooked meals (last night's, anyway) taste so much better when I know that I won't be having them for a while as does enjoying a wide expanse of workspace that I can stack all my papers and messes on. I'll be working out of a tiny hotel escritoire for a while!

Life is made up of the in betweens. Easier to say than to remember, but at least I can try.

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european reading

With the upcoming trip to Europe, the natural thing for me to do is read absolutely everything I can. I'd become sick of travel guides, so, so sick of travel guides (you don't want to know how many I borrowed from the library) but needed to satiate my need to know more. The answer is books, of course (and the internet--but I'll spare you all of my odd search phrases today), thus began my nonfiction kick this past week.

Londoners (Craig Taylor), I found oddly depressing with none of the romance or joie de vivre I expected--at least not in the first fifty pages. I promptly stopped reading after that, deciding I wanted to keep my rose-colored glasses for my actual trip to the city. Paris My Sweet (Amy Thomas) was, as promised in the title, a light confection of a book---and I suspect I will be blaming my ten-pound weight gain on her since she recommends a ridiculous number of (very tempting) boulangeries and patiserries. Thank goodness I will have my cousin to share sweets (and order in flawless French) for me! Tout Sweet (Karen Wheeler) was a little too Bridget Jones for me---what is amusing in fiction is a little more awkward to read when it happens to someone in real life, but I appreciated the perspective of the fashionable Brit (as opposed to hardened New Yorker, the usual protagonist in the "I'm moving to France" type books).

The winner, surprisingly, was I'll Never Be French (Mark Greenside). I cannot count the number of times I laughed out loud during my evening read, startling my husband out of his tablet-watching (how that can make someone sleepy I have no idea, but he has headphones on so I can't complain--better than a tv in the bedroom anyway). I truly enjoyed this book--full of dry humor followed by unexpectedly poignant thoughts of people and life. Typically, these kinds of travel narratives are all "Oh, this truly opened me up to living!" (think Eat, Pray, Love or Bella Tuscany). I think Greenside went beyond that, reminding me to be nicer to people now (no need to travel!) and think about how our interactions with people can change us as opposed to a place inspiring that change (although there is a lot of that too).

So many more books to read--maybe I will go on a Peter Mayle bend next.

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49,640 is the number of words I currently have in my story. There. I'm saying it. I'm writing a book.

It's something I've informed a few people of since January, since I determined that 2014 will be the Year of the Book. I still get embarassed when I say it, still worry that I will fail--that I will never finish or, worse, that I will, and it will be absolutely atrocious.

But it is getting easier, if not entirely easy, to push aside these doubts and just wallow in the joy of writing. To sit in a chair, pry open the laptop, click on the file, and have sentences magically form underneath my fingers. I struggle to describe how it feels--a sentence wasn't there, and then it was. And then a paragraph. And then 49,640 words.

Sometimes, when my mind isn't preoccupied with stories, different ones every day, I wonder what fills other people's minds? How do they entertain themselves in line at the doctor's? How do they lull themselves to sleep at night?

Maybe I'll never be the published author that I've dreamed of becoming ever since I was a little girl, but I think it's about time I give it a fair shot. I'm old enough to understand that even failure in this regard will not stop me from being a writer.

Only (approximately) 20,360 to go.

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long weekend in washington

There were so many "best parts" about being reunited with my family that it's hard to decide which one really wins... There were the ear-piercing shrieks when I entered the living room (they did not expect me to make the 8+ hour plane and car trek to Washington from Tennessee), meeting my aunt's husband and kids for the first time (they've been married ten years, people), seeing my uncle and his wife after eight years, dancing with one and all (from an adorable two-year old to my even more adorable grandmother), laughing--both horrified and delighted--at seeing my husband pull his Gangnam Style moves all across the living room floor... The list is endless.

What happens when one is away from family for so long is a burgeoning appreciation--how wonderful it feels to bask in familial love, something that is easily taken for granted when readily available. These are the people who shaped me--my eating habits (dessert for breakfast, but of course! not one child was told to minimize their sugar intake, how refreshing), my sense of humor (belly laugh at something just slightly funny, not being able to finish one's joke because the giggles have already taken over), my weaknesses (over an hour spent in a single shop--my aunts and grandmother are retail Olympians). Many of my quirks, so different from my husband's, explained in a single weekend.

I can't wait till I am able to once again pull up a chair next to Michael, lean my elbows on the table, and listen to the multiple casual conversations swirling around me. Someone will tease Michael, and he'll dish it right back (one my very favorite things is how he just jumps in a family joke--even my grandmother commented on this), people will start laughing--even if they missed the punchline--simply because it's infectious, and I'll sigh as I lose my internal struggle and steal another slice of cake from the middle of the table. So simple, but such a joy.