French Culture; Romance in the Every Day

French Culture; Romance in the Every Day

I have been desperately searching after my lost French culture recently. I grew up in Paris, and maintained my French language (and some culture) through French classes through high school and college, along with yearly week-long trips to Paris to visit old friends. Recently, however, rien. My busy life in journalism school, then working full time, have provided limited time for practicing my French, and it is truly insane (no matter how many times you hear it) how fast you can lose a language. Of course, it is possible to get it back (and mine is not totally lost.. I just have quite embarrassing, incoherent, fumbling-for-words moments), but not without some hard work.

 

Anywho, the most accessible trove of French culture in the city is, unsurprisingly, the Alliance Française. It is on the Upper East Side, and they have a delightfully modern, aesthetically-pleasing and organized website highlighting all of their weekly events and group activities, of which there are many. I have not become a member yet, mostly because I am too broke to even bear looking at my bank account at the moment (even though the membership is VERY affordable – don’t let this deter you). But I felt I could afford the $10 student ticket to a talk that took place last Wednesday. It was discussion and book signing with French fashion designer Catherine Malandrino, who just came out with a book called “Une Femme Française: The Seductive Style of French Women.” In it, from what I gathered (the talk was in English, but jumped around a bit), she discusses femininity, the very real distinctions between the French woman and the American one, and what it takes to cultivate a French, seductive lifestyle.

An October Day at Storm King

An October Day at Storm King

A few Saturdays ago, Kenjo and I went to Storm King for the day. It had been a plan in the making for some time. Something in the stars had kept us from getting there in the weeks prior, but finally; that day – October 28th – we were going. The car was booked.

 

Of course, I was ready to go about an hour and a half before Kenjo actually got his butt to my door, and then we felt too rushed to go to Whole Foods and buy picnic food (we can just get food there at the cafe, I told myself). But we had a plan to stop at a diner on the way, and so we did. It wasn’t, sadly, particularly charming; the food was okay. But, anyway, the drive was nice, right along the Hudson, and we listened to music and watched the fall leaves rush by.

Home, Sweet Country Home

Home, Sweet Country Home

An Ode to Undying Routines, Falling-down Barns, and the Sweet Smell of Hay in the Air as I Drive Home from a Day that Has Left Me Creative

I have always been a city girl. But, boy, am I glad that my parents live out in the middle of nowhere. Whenever my life feels a little bit too messy to handle (which, honestly, New York tends to do to my brain a lot), their house in the boondocks of Upstate New York provides the perfect escape. Something about waking up with no one across the street and only my dogs to answer to allows me to settle more clearly into my routine: a ten-minute drive, around 8am, along the lake to my favorite coffee shop, where I’ll spend the next four hours, writing idly. Where, at some point, I’ll happily gulp down some iced coffee and a perfect sesame bagel with cream cheese for sustenance, and I’ll feel completely at peace - as the coffee shop regulars come in and out and as the coffee shop owner roasts coffee beans about five feet away – knowing that I’m getting things done on my own deadline.

Four days in Cuba, Polaroid camera and Cliff bars in hand

Four days in Cuba, Polaroid camera and Cliff bars in hand

Travel can be unpredictable, and if there is anything I learned from my mother's preparations for our family's trips growing up, it is that one should always pack some extra snacks when heading off to unfamiliar lands. I am not entirely sure us kiddos (there were about eight of us, as we traveled as a pack of three families) would have survived our trips to China and India without our lifetime supply-worth of plain and peanut M&M's to munch on as we traveled from sight to sight. Or, at the very least, we would have driven our parents crazy with whining. Therefore, uncertain of whether I would truly like Cuban food (I am ashamed to say this.. I had really not tried it much before I left for the trip), and not knowing what kinds of snacks I would find along the way, I stuffed an absurd number of Cliff bars in my suitcase for our long-weekend journey. It was to be my first trip with Kenjo, one we planned on somewhat of a whim because our timing (mine with school, his with work) seemed to line up swimmingly; and I was not going to whine the entirety of our trip. I was determined to be a pleasant travel buddy. And it turns out, even though I LOVE Cuban food, not a single Cliff bar came back to Los Estados Unidos. Snacks just become essential when, in the frenzy of trying to see EVERYTHING, especially in the humid Cuban heat, you sometimes don't make eating your first priority. 

A post about Greece, a little late

A post about Greece, a little late

a magical post-grad trip in Athens, Mykonos, and Santorini

Well, it has taken me over a year, for some reason, to get to writing about this lovely trip. I took this trip with one of my close friends, Mel, right after we graduated from college, last June, and it was an incredibly fun and aesthetically beautiful trip - everything Greece should be. I guess, in the moments after I got back, I couldn’t bring myself to think of it as a particularly soul-enriching experience in the ways that some of my past travels had been (India and Burma, for example, which had broken my heart slightly), and for that reason I didn't know quite how to write about it. It was a cultural experience, of course: I saw the Parthenon and many Ancient Greek structures - ones so beautiful, upon which modern life is superimposed in a way so extraordinary as to be almost unbelievable. Athens gives way to imagining the life of the Ancient Greeks almost as if they must be existing right there, at the exact same time, in a parallel universe: you are walking their exact same streets, passing right by their dilapidated, still beautiful buildings; just, somehow, 2,500-odd years later. I also experienced Greek culture, which had previously only been known to me in the very limited context of Greek restaurants. I had dreamed of being surrounded by beautiful white houses on a Greek island, and on this trip, I got my glorious dose of that. It was wonderful. But I didn’t feel that I grew as a person from experiencing these things: I didn’t seek out the tough stuff while traveling through Greece. We briefly caught a glimpse of the Elliniko Refugee Camp, the abandoned airport on the outskirts of Athens where many refugees have taken up residence, as we were driving back from a day at a beach bar; an embarrassing contrast. And Athens, too, had its juxtapositions: for a city flooded with tourists and money all year round, it doesn’t feel particularly safe or wealthy at all when one peaks beyond its main attractions. But I will walk you through what my journey to Greece was supposed to be in the first place, and what it ended up being: a well-deserved vacation. It was my college graduation present. Mel and I traveled together on a budget, but we still managed to splurge where it counted. And the Greek islands we saw were as beautiful as I’ve always heard they are; I can only hope to go back someday.