Monday, September 27, 2010

Monday 5 List #2

What amazes me this week:
  1. That inside my 6'5, 17 year old son I can still see glimpses of the boy who liked pirates and swords and playing with bugs. He likes pretty girls, fast cars and playing lacrosse now but sometimes he's just a little boy who needs his mom.
  2. That once in a while you run into someone from your past and the minute you see them, the time machine lands at your feet and you step inside. (I'm imagining the Tardis and the delicious new Dr. Who). It's usually a sentimental trip and one I'm happy to take but usually not one I'm interested in reliving.
  3. That macaroni and cheese is still the best comfort food, even if it is fancy mac and cheese from a Chicago restaurant.
  4. That leaving my window open just a crack at night will help me fall asleep just like it did when I was 10 years old. 
  5. That Diane Keaton's character had it exactly right in "Something's Gotta Give"
Jack Nicholson as Harry:
               "Will you tell me first why you only miss be married at night?"
Diane Keaton as Erica:
               "The phone doesn't ring that much at night. And the whole alone thing happens   at night. Sleeping by myself took some getting used to but I got the hang of it. You gotta sleep in the middle. It's not healthy to have a side when no one else has the other side."

Friday, September 24, 2010

Harry Potter and The Deathly HallowsTrailer

I can hardly wait. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1 will be released in the US on November 19th. The first Potter film to be seen in 3-D. Hard to believe the most successful film series in movie history is almost over. Part 2 arrives in theaters on July 15, 2011. I've enjoyed the books and films for so long with my Kid it will be strange to no longer anticipate the next one.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Travel Soundtrack

I always travel with music. My iPod touch is the 2nd thing I pack (after my passport of course). Music saves my sanity during long air, train, car and bus trips and somehow manages to set a mood for where ever I am roaming.

During my trip to France I listened to a playlist titled "Rock, Paper, Paris" (after my favorite childhood game). As I was riding the train to Giverny and Reims the music provided the soundtrack as the French countryside passed by.

Here's a glimpse of my playlist: a mix of pop, jazz, French and folk.

Little Lion Man-Mumford and Sons
Perpetuum Mobile-Penguin Cafe Orchestra
Que Reste-T-Il De Nos Amours-Charles Trenet
I'm Afraid of Americans-David Bowie
Cosmic Love-Florence and the Machine
La Vie En Rose-Louis Armstrong
Teenage Dream-Katy Perry
Un Jour Comme Un Autre-Brigitte Bardot
The Longer I Run-Peter Bradley Adams
Marilou Sous La Neige-Serge Gainsbourg
Listen-Amos Lee
Don't Give Up-Chicane
Bloodletting-Concrete Blonde
Feeling Good-Nina Simone
Cuts You Up-Peter Murphy
Take My Hand-Dido
Carpe Diem-Aldebert

(Photo is a pic of my travel essentials on the way back to Paris from Champagne...yeah lots of water after all the tastings)

What's on your travel soundtrack?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Back in Chicago...

Ughhhh jet lag is a sadistic mistress. Monday was a looonnnnngggg day, 18 hours of travel. Paris to New York City to Chicago. It's always wonderful to get home to the City by the Lake. Chicago in the fall is almost as fantastic as Chicago in the summer. As happy as I am to be home, I already miss Paris.

I have so much to blog about over the next week or so including tales of my dinner with Jim Haynes, traveling with girlfriends, making new friends, my favorite places in Paris and tips on travel books.

Once I catch up on my sleep, I'll begin...

(photo of me napping in the Paris flat)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Thoughts on Parisians

Everyone in Paris smokes. Teenagers, the young, the old, everyone. Sitting outside at a bistro you may sit between a smoker and a dog, dogs are allowed almost everywhere including on your lap in a restaurant. Very dog friendly city, only problem is the massive amount of dog sh*t on the sidewalks. Oh and the cigarette butts, they litter the streets like confetti after a parade.

Fashion. Paris is a more casual city than I remember from the 90's. Men and women wear jeans and sneakers and seem to be dressed more for practicality and style than statement. Many of the clothes I see on young Parisians are American brands, Levi, Hurley, Gap, Old Navy and Converse. Converse sneakers are very popular here. Another popular trend, US college t-shirts and sports team wear. I've spotted NYU, Ohio State and Michigan t-shirts in the shops. Overall Parisians don't seem to be as coutre as in the past, I think Italians may hold that title. French men have the thickest most beautiful hair I've ever seen. Men and women are aging beautifully here.

I've walked miles of streets in Paris each day and passed only 1 health club, 1 yoga studio and seen only 5 joggers. Paris is not a City of exercise addicts like major cities in America. Most people are average size if not thin, in fact I have yet to spot more than 5 or 6 obese people and they were most likely tourists from the USA. The French seem to have found the perfect balance with food, they enjoy everything in moderation. Well except the smoking, they look fantastic but probably have black lungs.

Charm. I've met some charming men in Paris. At a private dinner party the other evening in a Paris art studio I met Michael. Michael spoke at least 3 languages to different guests at the party and seemed to know everything about Paris. He looked a bit like Michael Caine, had lived in Paris for 50 years but had a slight NY accent and had known our host for decades. He was fascinating, direct and funny. I appreciate the directness of European men. Another man at the dinner party, Victor said to me, most likely after loosening his tongue with the excellent wine, "I have to ask are obviously attractive and intelligent...why are you not married." Needless to say we had an interesting conversation after that ice breaker and a lot of laughs.

1 more week in this wonderful City just won't be enough.

Friday, September 10, 2010

First Night in Paris

It's 9:30 in the evening here in Paris. It's dark and the city is alive with the sounds of a Friday night. I can hear glasses clincking over dinner, a woman's high heels on the cobblestones as she walks by and a baby crying.

Friends and I have rented a 2 bedroom flat in the 2nd arrondissement where we are living in a very non touristy area of the capital. The flat is large and on the 3rd floor with high ceilings and windows over looking a courtyard with views of Paris rooftops. We have thrown the windows open and I can see the sky over the red geraniums in the window boxes. It's really the perfect little Paris home.

My companions have gone to bed and I am enjoying a glass of wine and the sounds of my neighbors. Across the courtyard I can see into a first floor flat where there is a group of people enjoying dinner. As I watch them interact a guest will occasionally stand up and walk around the table, gesturing wildly with his hands while standing over someones shoulder. There are many bottles of wine and empty plates on the table. It appears they are having a lively dinner party.

My neighbors to the left are also enjoying dinner. The men are wearing yarmulkes and there are children around the table in high chairs. They have the TV on and seem to be enjoying a quiet meal on Rosh Hashanah. Somewhere I can still hear a baby crying.

At the market down the street I bought a few bottles of wine including the delicious Cabernet I am drinking right now, the entire bottle was less than 2 euro. Tomorrow morning we will wake up and wander to the local coffee shop for a strong cup of coffee before stopping by the baker for bread and croissants. We will spend the day at the French markets before having a picnic lunch. In the afternoon we will be wandering Pere Lachaise cemetery to visit the final resting places of Edith Piaf, Oscar Wilde and yes, Jim Morrison.

The baby has finally stopped crying so I am going to try and get some reading done. Bon Soir.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Try, Try, Again

I leave for Paris the day after tomorrow. I love the anticipation of travel, that fluttering in your stomach when you think of arriving at your destination. I've been to Paris on 2 previous occasions. Once in the 90's when I went on my first honeymoon and again about 6 years ago when I went with my son and parents. My first trip was exhausting, I arrived within hours of my wedding and was extremely sleep deprived. I didn't have a great impression of Paris during that trip. Maybe it was the physical state of exhaustion I was in or the rainy October weather but I left Paris with little desire to return. My 2nd trip was short but a completely different experience. We were based in London but took the train to Paris to spend a few days and enjoyed a leisurely stay. This trip to Paris I'm planning on experiencing all the delights of the city and the countryside from the local street markets to world class vineyards to meeting local people.

I consider my previous 2 visits to Paris as a warm up to this visit. I jammed the usual tourist stops into my trip but didn't experience life like a Parisian. One of my friends who is traveling with me speaks French and lived briefly in Paris a few year ago. I'm looking forward to seeing her Paris, the market stalls, picnics on the banks of the Seine, train trips to the country. We've rented a 2 bedroom flat in a non-tourist neighborhood and I'm looking forward to finding the local coffee shop, buying groceries, uncorking a bottle of wine, tossing my shoes at the front door and arranging fresh flowers on the table. I'm looking forward to just being there with my friends.

There are other places I've visited that I have little desire to return too (Italy, Hawaii) but as I'm learning 1 bad trip does not a lasting impression make. I'll try and blog from Paris. Au revoir!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

An Extraordinary Gift of Love

This video is amazing. A husband's creative way to tell his wife how much he loves her on her birthday. The creator is a 35 year old man recently diagnosed with terminal cancer. Watch the video, it's beautiful. I hope he gets his miracle. You can follow his journey on his blog here.

P.S. Yes that is the actor Hugh Jackman and the Prime Minister of New Zealand John Key making cameos.

Rachel's Birthday Video from Kristian Anderson on Vimeo.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Flash Back Friday #43

Next Friday I will be in Paris with 3 of my dearest friends. The Friday after that I will be at the Palace of Versailles watching fireworks and enjoying a celebration only the French can host.

In honor of Paris, here is a short video celebrating this beautiful city and culture. Have a great weekend readers!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

A Favorite Poem-September 1, 1939 by W. H Auden

Today is September 1, so I'm posting the link to one of my favorite poems, September 1, 1939 by W. H Auden. Written during World War II, Auden's words are timeless.

Read it here.

My favorite stanza:
"And no one exists alone;
Hunger allows no choice
To the citizen or the police;
We must love one another or die."