Entries in paris (31)


A tour of the Paris home office

When I was the editor of Lifework at Herman Miller, we did a ton of home-office tours. It was one of the most popular features on the blog--for some reason, folks really like to see where other folks work.

In that spirit, I thought I'd give you a glimpse of Obvious State headquarters, and the office Nichole and I share here in Paris. We're renting this flat, so it's furnished (smartly, sparingly) with pieces from IKEA, mostly. But the space itself is light, airy, and welcoming.

Though it's not really mine, I am starting to add personal touches to bring it to life. (I mean, hello, have we met? I can't resist styling it a LITTLE.) Mostly, I am displaying some flea-market finds from the several marchés I've been visiting. Nichole hasn't seen these yet, so I hope I get a little smile out of her when she gets back to the city later this week.

Speaking of my partner in crime, Nichole got me addicted to La Fermière yogurts on my very first day here. They come in terra cotta pots that I've repurposed as pen and pencil cups. The paper clip holder is also terra cotta--it contained a cheese I bought last week.

(Between us, the terra cotta pots are becoming a problem. I cannot throw them out...and I eat this stuff every day for breakfast. I am consuming the yogurt; it's cuteness is consuming me. But let's just agree not to discuss it right now, okay?)

And since writers need windows through which to gaze, dream, ponder, and whatever we do (spy...we clearly spy), this office provides the mother of all inspiration: two floor-to-ceiling windows that overlook the glass-covered passage we live within. Can't you see yourself writing the Next Great Novel with this view from your office window? (That's the plan, y'all.)

 The Paris Plan - Achieved Today: Rules #1, 2, 5, 7, 11.


Through a new lens

While awaiting the arrival of the replacement for my broken camera lens (which came yesterday along with my friend Sonal--huzzah!), I played around with a fancy 100mm lens that's been hiding in the apartment cabinet. It's new to me, and I've been slightly hesitant to break the sucker out. That's because it's substantial, this guy...the kind that sticks way out and hangs heavy around my neck, advertising to one and all that YES I AM PROBABLY A TOURIST PLEASE PICKPOCKET ME I'M TOO BUSY WITH MY HUMONGOUS CAMERA SITUATION TO NOTICE A FEW MISSING EURO OH MY GOD THIS THING IS MASSIVE RIGHT NO SERIOUSLY I TOTALLY KNOW.

Unlike my broken wider-angle lens, the 100mm, as I've now learned, lets me get alllll up in Paris' business. Like stalker-type levels of up. I walked around with the camera stuck on my face and pointing at the sky--up to the the rooftops, up into private conversations being had on balconies (not so private, sorry!), up into the realm of the blazing-gold statues holding court with masked, disembodied faces on top of the Palais Garnier opera house.

It's a powerful feeling, capturing sky-high parts of Paris I don't see when I play it safe behind my other lighter, more familiar lens. But I don't seem to be much about playing it safe lately. And for someone who makes, you know, giant lists of rules before she moves to a different country, that's pretty powerful, too.

 The Paris Plan - Achieved Today: Rules #1, 2, 4, 7, 13. And maybe #15?



I'm in mega-learning mode right now, and I am so thankful for my teachers along the way: Lindsey on where to eat in Paris; Kasia on where to shop; Nichole on how to survive it all. And then there are the classes on the REALLY good stuff--French wine and macarons--taught in, le sigh, English. Since I've been here, I've sipped Champagne and Bourdeaux during a wine-tasting class from Wine Tasting in Paris and have learned to make macarons (!) at La Cuisine Paris.

And ooooh lordy. How I rejoiced in being able to understand every.single.word.

For the record, the wine-tasting class was on a boat on the Seine, and the macaron instructor sent us all home with at least a dozen holy-cow-did-we-actually-MAKE-these? treats. I know.

I keep pinching myself. And also the extra inch that may be slowly appearing around my belly. Rules number 5 and 6 in The Paris Plan: IN EFFECT.



The Paris Plan: 15 Rules for Living in a City of Light

Last week I mentioned that I put together a list of rules to live by while I'm in Paris. I am slightly nervous to share them--are they weird or obvious or stupid or too personal?--but these three months are all about living a little better and a little braver, so I'm sucking it up and placing them down below.

(It also makes it feel more real if I just put it out there, you know?)

My hope is these guidelines will inspire me to maximize my time here. And when that time is up, maybe they'll even help me shift the way I experience my everyday in Brooklyn.

Let me know if I've missed anything or if you have suggestions!

-The Paris Plan-

1. Create every day, whether it's via writing or taking photos. (Preferably both.)

2. There is Paris outside your window; make sure you don't stay inside too long. Be efficient and realistic, but don't miss out by overthinking your client work or by the inevitable urge to watch the "Game of Thrones" episodes you're missing back home. Winter is coming, but in this case, it can wait.

3. Listen better. Don't let iTunes substitute for the sounds of the city. When you're out, leave the ear buds at home. (Unless you're exercising.)

4. Exercise.

5. Eat. And eat and eat. This is France. Have the butter; try the cheese. Be the woman walking down the street with the fresh baguette.

6. Don't freak out if you gain 5 pounds.

7. Talk to someone in French once a day. Even if it's just to say good morning. Or hello, nice to meet you. Or "Please feed me croissants because I have committed to not freaking out if I gain 5 pounds."

8. Don't totally buy in to the stereotypical Paris fantasy. Live it. Smell it. Taste it. Appreciate what's real around you, and try not to get caught too often in the shadow of big tall towering things. Unless they are men.

9. Don't forget the men.

10. Leave the city on a regular basis. Find out if you miss it.

11. Know these numbers by heart: your passport, your Paris address and cross streets, your Paris phone number, your landlord's cell, emergency numbers.

12. Read literature about where you are. Understand why Hemingway called Paris "A Moveable Feast."

13. Wear the right shoes. Make sure they're comfortable. Walk like you know where you're going, even when you don't.

14. Embrace the unexpected. Because there will be speedbumps, and there will most certainly be cobblestones (and they're even harder to deal with if you aren't wearing the right shoes).

15. Listen, girl. Don't forget that sometimes you need to forget the rules.



Places to breathe

I thought about writing on the alarmingly high levels of smog in Paris over the weekend. I thought about writing how almost everyone I know now has a constant runny nose or a consistent sneeze. I thought about writing how it's been a little easier to lose my breath walking up and down and up and down the steps of the Metro. (Couldn't be all the bread and cheese and butter I am consuming--right?)

All I can think to write is, dang y'all, Paris looks real good in the smog.



Friday, finally

Wishing you a wonderful weekend from waaaaaaaay over here.