Paris!

When we decided to try for a child, one major thing that I had to reconcile was saying goodbye to travel for a while. I mean, I anticipated plenty of trips to see family, and after a few years, it’d certainly be fun to take our kid on child-friendly vacations, if for nothing else than to see her surprised by new experiences and dazzled by cartoons come to life, ready to give her a big friendly hug.

But I thought for sure we were saying goodbye to non-family travel for a while, and even after we had Zoe, it made me shudder to think of wasting precious time in the world’s capitals dealing with toddler meltdowns or trying to find a decent place to change her. Or sitting in the hotel room with a passed-out child, cursing jet lag and the fact that probably no country allows you to leave your sleeping child alone in a locked room (KIDDING, don’t call CPS on me!). For some reason, I never thought about continuing to travel, just without her.

Silly, silly me. I couldn’t have foreseen that these days — almost two years after Zoe’s birth — I’m in a job that requires two (domestic) trips a year. They may not always be the most glamorous locales, but are still fun, happening cities where I can pretend to be a childless adult for a few days. And now, lo and behold, we’ve received an offer, the type of which is impossible to turn down: Evan’s been asked to moderate a panel at a conference… on his birthday… in Paris!

So we “discussed” it for about two seconds, and after we lined up reliable childcare for the week that we’ll be gone (thanks, Mom & Dad!!), we did a little dance that possibly involved too much butt-wiggling, and bought our tickets. Bonjour, Paris!

I’m beyond excited and also a bit overwhelmed. Evan and I have both been to Paris a few times, but not for over eight years (wow, nothing makes you feel old like counting the years…). That amount of time seems like forever, obviously not in Paris’s history, but definitely in ours — I mean, we can probably afford meals from real restaurants this time! Plus, the internet is such a different place than eight years ago, and as with so many topics, it’s now an overflowing repository of idealized, interesting Paris experiences, which is probably part of what’s overwhelming me.

So, I turn to you: I want to know everything — where should we go, what should we eat, what is a DEFINITE can’t-miss, and how do I avoid getting pickpocketed? Ooh, and what are the books/blogs I should be reading to get in a Paris frame of mind?

Some notes: we’ve been to most of the big tourist attractions on previous trips, but we probably won’t be able to resist at least a quick walk to the Notre Dame and Eiffel Tower anyway. I’m surprisingly feeling a bit “eh” on a Louvre trip, since I’ve visited it at least twice. And I do want to incorporate some sort of very delicious, very fattening food goal, something akin to seeking out the best croissant in Paris — which will obviously take lots of evidence-gathering!

What else, what else, what else? Taking all advice, starting now!

Merci beaucoup!!

(Photo of the Paris landmark that flashes into my mind’s eye every time I think of the city, the Fontaines de la Concord, courtesy of Inside France Ukraine)

Advertisements

Maurice Williamson


A couple of months ago, New Zealand passed an amendment to an existing marriage act, now clearly stating that same-sex marriage was legal. The language was short and a bit dry:

This bill seeks to amend the Marriage Act 1955 to ensure that its provisions are not applied in a discriminatory manner. The bill aims to ensure that all people, regardless of sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity will have the opportunity to marry if they so choose.

I remember at that time being happy about the news, but not feeling all that affected. I’ve visited gorgeous New Zealand, and have some friends who live there, but frankly didn’t give it much thought.

Then today, I had the pleasure of coming across a speech given by Maurice Williamson, a member of the House of Representatives, right before the final voting. He’s funny, touching, self-deprecating, honest, and seriously: so, so funny. I’m not sure how that dude behind him keeps such a straight face throughout his speech — maybe, as Williamson belongs to the center-right party (which makes this even more amazing), the guy behind him just REALLY disagrees with him, to the point where he’s actually lost his funny bone?

It’s a complete treat, and I can’t even imagine how amazing it would be if a member of the US Congress was this entertaining and incisive (or are they? I don’t watch a lot of C-SPAN):
[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pCDEiaoEP2U%5D

And if that wasn’t enough, when the final vote was read in favor of the amendment, they let in observers, who started singing Pokarekare Ana, a traditional New Zealand love song. The politicians join in, and it’s just an incredibly touching moment… which means, yes, I cried:
[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DW4DXOAXF8U%5D

Listen, as my friend Josh pointed out last night, there’s a lot of depressing shit going on right now. Sometimes, we could stand to focus on some of the amazing things that happening worldwide too. Happy Thursday!

PS the Rep who submitted the bill (she’s the one being hugged by everyone in the second video), Louisa Wall, was a national netball and rugby player before becoming a politician. She was on the 1998 women’s rugby team that won the World Cup! Overachieve much? 🙂

(Photo courtesy of Maurice Williamson’s Twitter)

The History of Love

The times when I’ve come across a book I love — not just enjoy or recommend — but truly and deeply LOVE, I feel as though I’ve been significantly altered as a person. While I don’t necessarily subscribe to the High Fidelity theory of “what really matters is what you like, not what you are like,” I do still feel an intense, instantaneous kinship with anyone who loves what I love. And there’s no realm in which this connection is as strong for me as with books — I can concede that someone who loves the same movies, music, or food as me could do so for their own valid reasons that are different from mine. But when someone wide-eye enthuses about one of those few books that I would use to define myself — I know I’ve found a kindred soul.

For some reason though, especially with these special few books, I’m not a big re-reader. Maybe I’m fiercely protective of that original experience, or maybe I’m afraid that it won’t happen again? Such was the case with one of my favorites, The History of Love, which I read when it came out in 2005. In the last year or so though, I’ve come across more folks, people I admire and respect deeply, who profess their love of this book. After that first zing of connection, I’d be suffused with longing and nostalgia for that reading experience. Then just last week, I read an interview with Mikel Jollett, the lead singer/songwriter for The Airborne Toxic Event, where he calls out The History of Love as one of his favorites (trivia: Nicole Krauss, the author, was at Stanford at the same time as him). One major thing that makes Airborne one of my favorite bands is Jollett’s lyrics. He has an unabashed and sincere love for poetry and an ability to pick the most affective way of expressing an emotion. It’s something that I greatly admire and connect with, and it is no surprise to me that he loves this book as well. It made me realize that, after almost eight years, it might finally be time to pick it up again.

So I’m about halfway through now, and savoring as much as I can. In my opinion, the most beautiful, inventive, and true passages in the book come from the book-within-the-book, also titled The History of Love. My favorite parts so far:

Maybe the first time you saw her you were ten. She was standing in the sun scratching her legs. Or tracing letters in the dirt with a stick. Her hair was being pulled. Or she was pulling someone’s hair. And a part of you was drawn to her, and a part of you resisted–wanting to ride off on your bicycle, kick a stone, remain uncomplicated. In the same breath you felt the strength of a man, and a self-pity that made you feel small and hurt. Part of you thought: Please don’t look at me. If you don’t, I can still turn away. And part of you thought: Look at me.

Even now, all possible feelings do not yet exist. There are still those that lie beyond our capacity and our imagination. From time to time, when a piece of music no one has ever written, or a painting no one has ever painted, or something else impossible to predict, fathom, or yet describe takes place, a new feeling enters the world. And then, for the millionth time in the history of feeling, the heart surges, and absorbs the impact.

Then she kissed him. Her kiss was a question he wanted to spend his whole life answering.

Feelings are not as old as time. Just as there was a first instant when someone rubbed two sticks together to make a spark, there was a first time joy was felt, and a first time for sadness. For a while, new feelings were being invented all the time. Desire was born early, as was regret. When stubbornness was felt for the first time, it started a chain reaction, creating the feeling of resentment on the one hand, and alientation and loneliness on the other. It might have been a certain counterclockwise movement of the hips that marked the birth of ecstasy; a bolt of lightning that caused the first feeling of awe. Or maybe it was the body of a girl named Alma. Contrary to logic, the feeling of surprise wasn’t born immediately. It only came after people had enough time to get used to things as they were. And when enough time had passed, and someone felt the first feeling of surprise, someone, somewhere else, felt the first pang of nostalgia.

I mean, I don’t know. Maybe most people find this incredibly pretentious. But I read this, and I feel down to my bones that this is one of the quickest ways for me to answer who I am: I love The History of Love. If you do too, I want to know you. What else is there to say?

(Photo courtesy of Andrea’s Bookclub — guess SJP is in my club!)

Lightning Obsession: Awkward Black Girl


You guys, sometimes when we get excited about things, we tend to overexaggerate. I mean, I’ve heard.

Earlier this week, when my friend Carey posted a news item about an actress named Issa Rae being cast as Nina Simone in a movie, he said, “If you aren’t into Awkward Black Girl [the web series that Rae created and stars in], this link is my present to you today.”

I very much respect Carey’s opinion on what’s what (for example, he understands — much like I do — that Friday Night Lights is basically life, except even more so than actual everyday life is), so after hearing that this got his stamp of approval, I decided to watch the first episode, but wasn’t expecting that much.

Then I watched another. And another. And you see where this is going.

Two days later, after watching every episode in the two seasons, I emerged, feeling the way that you should feel after binge-watching a series: completely invigorated by another person’s creative vision, smug as hell that I get to live in a world where this exists, and super eager to shout about it to anyone who’ll listen.

So here’s my shouting: ABG is hilarious, profane, insightful, sweet, and very very honest. It might resonate with you more if you’re black (which I’m not) and definitely will if you’re awkward (which I often am), but I am in total love with it, and would highly recommend watching the first episode. There are 25 overall, and they vary from 3 to 20-some minutes, but almost every minute (my attention drifted a bit during the black sorority hazing bits) is worth it.

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=nIVa9lxkbus%5D

And of course, it didn’t hurt that I developed quite the crush on White Jay, even through the parts where he was being totally lame. So sue me, I guess I have a type:

Hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

(Top photo courtesy of Tumblr and bottom photo courtesy of Lyman Johnson)