29 November 2008

i have measured out my life with coffee spoons...

"For I have known them all already, known them all— Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons, I have measured out my life with coffee spoons; I know the voices dying with a dying fall Beneath the music from a farther room."

t. s. e l i o t

((new photos from selma tesekkur ederim my seker lokum :))))

28 November 2008

Here's to lots and lots of Thanksgiving leftovers!!!

An inevitable question from a non-American to an American is, “tell me about Thanksgiving, do you really eat a whole turkey, why do you celebrate this, is that all you do, just eat?” Ok, so that’s more than one question, but they all center around the notion of the Thanksgiving that has been portrayed in American movies, TV series etc...it’s something that they feel they know so much, yet so little about. Come to find out when you ask most Americans about Thanksgiving, they too, know so much, yet so very little (on the origins) but friends, family and food come to mind and have become the tradition, and when you think about it, that’s really a universal experience. Perhaps that explains why this year the majority of Thanksgiving greetings that I received and exchanged were between non-Americans. I have been a part of so many people’s ‘first Thanksgivings’ and though I don’t take credit for ever really making the proper feast ....that’s not to say we didn’t have a good time!

Here is a list of sorts, (and because I have a tendency to write a lot, it appears to have taken the shape of a ‘top 10’) of moments from Thanksgivings past, abroad, that are anything but traditional, but are just as meaningful for me and remind me of the people and experiences that truly make me thankful.

1. First Thanksgiving in Paris 2001, not sure what to do after arriving in France only three month earlier. Amie and I wonder the streets of our quartier in search of a way to celebrate.... after much tense discussion and heated debate (haha, seriously!) we ended up in a Chinese restaurant, because we resolved that at this point in the evening, anything family style could potentially resemble a Thanksgiving feast (work with us here). And we salvaged the night, celebrating Thanksgiving amongst oblivious French patrons in a Chinese restaurant somewhere near the corner of place du Mexique in the chic 16eme... and our first of many Thanksgivings abroad, I think we’d both agree was, well, different but deliciously shared.

2. Another year, after being immersed in a very eclectic group of international students (who were to become my dear friends) my roommate L and I (the two California girls at school) decided to show everyone a real Thanksgiving experience, and invited practically the entire school to our one-room appartement, on rue Letellier (our fanatical Greek landlord would have been more than horrified.) Two American friends were visiting at the time and thus the four of us proceeded to fill the table with alcohol, turkey cold cuts, two small poulet rôti (that gave the whole-bird, turkey ‘look’), some sort of red berries that were round but not cranberries, and cookies that were missing an ingredient and were flat and melted together but nonetheless consumed.

3. The details of the rue Letellier ‘real Thanksgiving’ escapades escape me at the moment ;) but I remember music and laughter and socializing with my amazing classmates whose life experiences, didn’t include, perhaps, Thanksgiving, but spanned the globe and brought the world before me. I remember standing in the corner of my bedroom trying to get away from the noise just enough to hear my family on the other end of the phone in California at their more functional, more traditional Thanksgiving feast. I remember someone teaching me how to write my name in Arabic on the back of a paper plate, and I remember getting notes from my French neighbors the day after, in French words of displeasure ....and as the years went by we improved our Thanksgiving festivities, not to say this party wasn’t fun, but until my mom finally came to make a proper feast, I felt I’d let my friends down, fearing they’d forever think that a Thanksgiving feast consisted of alcohol, turkey cold cuts and the excuse to have a party on a Thursday night!

4. In one of my speech classes, I prepared an informational speech on Thanksgiving, in attempt to answer the questions, satisfy the curiosity, and perhaps clear up any confusion we may have caused... and I admit, I even learned quite a lot on the origins of Thanksgiving.

5. A few weeks early, before another approaching Thanksgiving in Paris, my mom, always a cook, always an entertainer, smuggled a frozen turkey, cans of pumpkin, cranberries and countless other items in her suitcase, in the hopes of restoring her daughter’s reputation in international Thanksgiving festivities.

6. Thanksgiving family-style was a real success, and I even gave my Thanksgiving speech again, for those who had missed the debut performance of this brilliant presentation.

7. The pumpkin pie was beyond words, surtout for those of us Americans who had not tasted it in years. Jeff went so far as to eat a piece that had fallen, off of the floor, because we weren’t about to waste one smidge of this taste of home.

8. This same year, on the official Thanksgiving day, W & J hosted a Thanksgiving, in a style that only W & J could fashion. Walter (Chinese, grew up in Brazil, moved to California, then to Paris...one word, amazing) and Jeff (American/French downloaded American TV shows for us and kept us up-to-date on 24, Simple Life etc..) had all of us over for one of their trademark, A-ma-zing parities. There is nothing like a W & J party..nothing. And we had another deliciously fun feast, more pumpkin pies, more whipped cream, on a Thanksgiving evening in Paris, on rue Chapon, where traditional flavors mingled with new traditions chez W & J.

9. Having two Thanksgivings in a row kind of made up for the lackluster festivities in the years to follow in Paris. Not that I didn’t have a wonderful Thanksgiving with my fellow American, Harriet, in her dog bakery/boutique Mon Bon Chien on our rue Mademoiselle, with hors d’œuvres as only Harriet could prepare and champagne (always on hand for impromptu parties in the store) and we had laughs, and a few extra special guests, then went out for pasta (yes, Harriet, oh the memories). More holiday celebrations in Mon Bon Chien would follow over the years, including the infamous Easter/Passover feast!

10. Being home the past two years, and yesterday, taking part once again in not one, but two consecutive Feasts with family, and the traditional Thanksgivings of my childhood, I discovered the delightful warmth of sitting amongst family, somehow finding a place around the same table, rounding up all the chairs in the house, squeezing food into every corner of the kitchen, sharing the same stories and often hearing them for the first time. When she was still with us, my great aunt used to invite everyone to her Thanksgiving, anyone that didn’t have a place to go, and you never knew who would show up each year, we were remembering that last night, and those Thanksgivings were fun and joyous and about spending a delicious moment in the company of others. I’m sure that was what fundamentally made an impression on me, and gave me the desire to share tradition and laughter with others all over the world. What is Thanksgiving all about, come over next year, I’ll show you.

I’m reminded that Thanksgiving has so many definitions. And trying to tell my friends, to answer their questions, becomes nearly impossible, because it’s ultimately an experience. In essence, it’s being together, sharing laughter and conversation, and making new memories while reliving the old. It’s something that should happen more than once a year, and that I found so often in Paris, we were always making an excuse to meet together and celebrate. It’s leftovers and turkey sandwiches in the following weeks, it’s sharing a taste and a story the day after Thanksgiving, and appreciating those around you, as I did, and will do, yesterday, today, and tomorrow... having a day-after Thanksgiving tonight prepared by my mom (this time no suitcase necessary, no smuggling required) with my family, packing tupperware to share new tastes of traditional stuffing and turkey with the Algerian, and with my favorite Mexican (if he can break away from the after-Thanksgiving retail craze) and appreciating those who are here and there but always in our stories this year, last year, and the next.

((the accompanying image, is a painting that I find a delicious compliment to this story, as was the artist/cartoonist/'the real Linus' Linus Maurer to my Thanksgiving yesterday. More stories about him to come very soon, you will love his work.))

26 November 2008

merci, takk, grazie, shukran, danke, obrigado, hvala, gracias, tack, çok tesekkür ederim, kiitos.......

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving......so many memories from makeshift Thanksgivings past in Paris.......... will write more later.

Ok, I will write more later, but while I’m on the subject (and while I delay getting in the shower and getting a start to my day) I can’t help but relive these infamous Thanksgivings and laugh, because the ‘Thanksgivings’ often involved alcohol and cold cuts. We did have real live Turkeys running around (ie my amazing Turkish friends haha canim!), as well as a smattering of languages (Sssanksgiving), crazy pictures, countless questions “what do you do on Sssanksgiving other than eat??” ((Uuh..chai pas..)), and more noise into the early hours of the morning than all of my former Thanksgivings put together...

I look at pictures, and it seemed so simple then, sharing a meal with friends. But the complexity of it hits me only now, I suppose I’m still digesting all of it, the lifelong connections we were forming over meals and conversation when we all stepped from our separate lives in our own countries, into tiny apartments in old buildings on small streets in Paris; where the warmth and friendship that we found inside was real enough to hold on to even as we walked away, that we were able to take with us on trains and planes, across oceans and deserts, that we shared in languages of our own while learning those of others.

And all in all, what I remember most today is a feeling of friendship and the buzzing of music, languages and laughter, of excitement and just being together. We were so incredibly lucky to have those cold cuts in each other’s company, literally from all corners of the earth, Turkey (wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without it), Norway, Brazil, Ireland, Bosnia, Jamaica, Sweden, Austria, Colombia, England, India, Germany, Egypt, France (ya we let a few select frenchies in!), Italy, Mexico, Morocco, Canada, Finland (oh ya, and just a few, well-behaved Americans, lol)... stuffed like a turkey into 40-meters-squared apartments filled with warmth and laughter.

I would give anything to have a real Thanksgiving like that again. I'd even settle for a Sssanksgiving. Now we’ve all gone in a million different directions, but we can’t seem to forget one another.. and every Thanksgiving, I think of all of you, and I miss you and I smile at the pictures and memories (and yes laugh at stupid things I may have done..) and am sincerely thankful for all of you who touched my life, and continue to do so......and here’s to another Thanksgiving together again, one day soon........
Merci, takk, grazie, shukran, danke, obrigado, hvala, gracias, tack, çok tesekkür ederim, kiitos..

thanks guys x c

25 November 2008

edged with mist

I’ve been experiencing sometimes debilitating, chronic, nearly daily headaches for the past two years. Like for instance, in this moment, 4h30 in the morning and unable to sleep because the headache is so great. But if I lay in bed trying to sleep, the pain is all the more apparent. I need distraction. So I’m sitting in the dark, my computer screen is at its dimmest, and I have my big, dark Tom Ford sunglasses on... (so I look gooood, haha just kidding ) often writing takes some of my attention from the pounding in my head. Sometimes I’m able to just sleep...but tonight, I’m bored, restless. As always I walk around the house in my sunglasses, put a sweatshirt hood over my head, listen to my migraine play list, and take two Fioricet every five hours.

"...and he could be intolerable, he could be impossible; but adorable to walk with on a morning like this." Mrs. Dalloway

My doctor says it’s been medically proven that thinking of happy moments and memories will help lessen the pain (of the headache, au moins) and so I search for instances where I’ve truly felt happy, warm, hopeful even, a thought, perhaps, with a strength that can take me away..and often you come to mind.. and for a breath or two, I find some level of peace within my grasp.

"...when we sit close we melt into each other with phrases... we are edged with mist." The Waves

As a consolation through this, I happened to discover that Virginia Woolf also suffered debilitating headaches. I sincerely believe her work is brilliant, genius down to the last word she wrote. Every sentence she crafted means something to me, each and every word, even out of context, brings me pleasure, inspiration, admiration; speaking to me, with eloquence and sentiment from another place and time, the very thoughts that clutter my mind; the precision with which her words casually flow off the page lulls me into another world, and gives me hope in the prospects of my continued pursuit of writing.

“...in a sunset mood of benignant reminiscence, which it would have been hard to disturb had there been need.” Night and Day

And in the end, she did fill her pockets with rocks and walk into the river to rid herself and her loved ones of the burden they all endured (she suffered from more than headaches). A meditated relief from the struggle. I’m looking to write a different ending for myself, but I suppose we must wait and see where life takes us. Until then I relish her words and with them I find my escape. Modestly I wish to one day, possess even one hundredth of her talent in expression, her agility and tenderness, her subtle ability to weave words into phrases that run together by accident and calculation, creating moments of elevated meaning and discovering the compliments and contradictions amongst which such words were destined to wander.

"...for they might be parted for hundreds of years, but suddenly it would come over her, if he were here with me now, what would he say? Some days, some sights bringing him back to her calmly, without the old bitterness; which perhaps was the reward of having cared for people; they came back in the middle of St. James park on a fine morning." Mrs. Dalloway

24 November 2008

je réfléchis

“The charm, which he had tried to disown, when under the effect of it, the beauty, the character, the aloofness, which he had been determined not to feel, now possessed him wholly; and when, as happened by the nature of things, he had exhausted his memory, he went on with his imagination.”

Virginia Woolf, Night and Day

23 November 2008

Honey in my coffee

Sitting in the car, he picks up the paper cup of cold coffee that’s been left in the cup holder all day long, and sips it, not registering any signs of displeasure in the taste (that I certainly don’t enjoy even watching him; yet I’ve grown accustomed to it) in fact he claims the coffee tastes better this way and I smile to myself in the endearing simplicity of such gestures that inexplicably hold me here. Like the need for that stale coffee, it can’t be helped. It’s the details, finding pleasure in the bitter sweet, and the moment after, that have in time, touched something within me. He takes a deep breath and sighs out loud, slight exhaustion coming over from a lack of solution to all of life’s problems; and with those strong coffee colored eyes he looks over at me, and in my eyes, his indulgent stare lingers, acknowledging unspoken words with indifference and sincerity and an air of resignation, with half-contented smiles, sympathetic, complicit, he then places the cup of coffee back in the cup holder, and starts the car.

22 November 2008

Songs of the past become present

Often, for me, music can document a certain moment in my life, take me to a place, rekindle a feeling, envelop me in a season or an entire period of my life.

I was sitting in my favorite café the other day (not the below-mentioned one on rue du Commerce, but my favorite family-owned café back here in California) and a Björk song was playing. When I came home I started playing all of my Björk songs over and over, and moments of my life that I hadn’t thought of for years came back to me in a matter of seconds.

Back seven years, to the student Foyer on blvd. St Michel, summer in Paris, sometime in my first two weeks after moving there, listening to Björk non-stop in our room, dark wooden furniture and a nice big window; past and present blur in the words of the songs that meant something to me in those days, and do, once again, slowly overwhelm and reminded me. Words that described for me the first step I’d take on the cobblestone streets of this new life. Speaking new words, feeling different passions, different fears, my heart beating to a foreign rhythm. She sings to me the preliminary touch of sentiment for the boy I’d never forget, a chance meeting at a corner café my second night in Paris that changed my life, (the very one who became my touchstone, my dwelling, for the next seven years of my life) the words speak to me now of fortune beyond currency and understanding beyond language, of possibility and fate, and of the pain that comes with loss and the steps (both forward and back) that follow, and the people who carried you through...and sang you another song, and helped you find your voice, to sing once more, as you never thought you would.

“It’s not up to you, oh it never really was...”

I hear myself struggling to get a sentence out in French, or to have a conversation on the phone, and worse, the bright turquoise Alcatel cell phone we all had, about the size of my shoe, and the vocab lessons we got from the voice on the mobicarte recharge recording, words I distinctly remember repeating after the voice over and over like disponible, valable and aucun, we’d actually try to repeat the phrases she said on the recording, “vous avez 70 F (soit 10,67 EURO) de crédit disponible.” I’d listen to Björk during métro rides to my classes, across the Seine, past the Eiffel Tower, sprinting for the RER B, and arriving inevitably late to class in the Foyer at St Michel. It’s a Paris that made me nostalgic for Paris, even the following 4 years I was still living there, because in these first few months, it was new, fresh, romantic, the Paris that opened my eyes and swept me away; it was only the beginning... and yes, a few Björk songs brought all of this back to me, and more.

“Unthinkable surprises, about to happen...but what they are...”

There was a definite Björk period in my life, started in senior year of university (University of California at Santa Barbara) I can literally see myself studying for finals with Amy listening over and over to a Björk CD on my Discman (remember those Discman things? I left mine in Paris with a boy who actually appreciated it for his long métro rides to boulot and foot...)

Yes the Björk period traveled with me into Paris, along with my friend Amy (or mon amie Amie as they understood her name in France), and we followed Björk all over Paris, trying to get into private, sold-out concerts, running to FNAC the day Vespertine came out, even though we already had a bootleg copy, just to have the European release, listening to it on my laptop while we studied (studying again, but this time in my chambre de bonne in Paris), standing in line with hundreds of others at the FNAC Champs Élysées very early on a cold morning to get two coveted tickets, and just minutes before approaching the ticket counter learning a new French vocab word...complet.

I did get a picture of the back of Björk walking up the stairs entering the small gothic chapel La Sainte-Chapelle for her intimate concert, and finally, on the day of her sold-out concert at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, in the posh neighborhood of avenue Montaigne, we bought two tickets, au noir, for an obscene amount of francs (I still to this day, have not done the conversion) and later that night, had the most amazing view worth every centime, front-row balcony, close to the stage, perfection.

Björk songs carried me through the first six months of my new life in Paris, but were somehow lost en route to and from late night/early morning dancing and socializing and music on the radio, when watching the sun rise on the Champs Elysées became a common occurrence and not just the place where we’d waited in line one cold morning for Björk tickets.

“I wake up and the day feels, broken..I tilt my hat, I’m trying to get an angle”

As far as I’m concerned hearing songs from another time is almost as good as a photo album, in terms of bringing back images. But then again, as I sit here with my photo album now on my lap, I realize that in my mind, my outfits look slightly better than they really, as captured forever on film, did at the time.

“Coincidence makes sense, only with you...”

Yes, I hear the songs that meant something to me then, and somehow always will, that sang to me of a world I’d yet to know, and words I sing now, in the same language sounding distant, and familiar, that remind me of what is possible, and will with certainty, mean something different to me, once more, when I sing them again, tomorrow.

“If you leave it alone, it might just happen...anyway.”

17 November 2008

Bonjour mademoiselle

Many of the most memorable parts of my first year in Paris (2001) were spent on rue du Commerce in the 15th. When I saw the above photo from Carla Coulson’s new book Paris Tango, I immediately felt as if I was walking past my corner café on rue du Commerce, 22 years old and loving every moment (yes, the honeymoon phase, with my rose colored glasses I couldn’t see the future struggles and frustrations intermingled with the bread, cheese and views of the Eiffel Tower...still blind to the bureaucratic intricacies that are as French as champagne... mais non, those stories were for a later date).

Nearly every day we’d meet in the café, where my dear friend K and I had befriended the French waiters. We only understood (in our broken French) the name of one of them, Pascal. Pascal called me la princesse and was amused by the fact that I was always smiling (or at least, I think that’s what he said...my French wasn’t so good, but I smiled my way through it..apparemment). They’d wave at us as they scurried about with their trays of drinks, and from across the street they’d call out "bonjour mademoiselles" as we passed the café on the way to the métro.

On the eve of our devastating departure from Paris (I did, in fact, move back to the very same corner of Paris eight months later) we made chocolate chip cookies for the waiters (my secret weapon in Paris -- my cookies á l’américaine) and sat with them to have a final drink in our café. When I did move back the following year, the wait staff had changed, but I still heard the echoes of Pascal and the other friendly waiter and found myself looking over across the street, always expecting to see one of them rushing out the door with a tray and a charming wink and a nod, bonjour mademoiselle.

In the making

I met the photographer Carla Coulson twice (I think) briefly, in my friend Harriet’s dog bakery Mon Bon Chien on my beloved rue Mademoiselle (more on her boutique later). One day as my dog Poulet and I were sitting around the shop, comme d’hab, I noticed a gorgeous book sitting on Harriet’s counter. I opened it and proceeded to sit on the couch in the store for at least an hour, engrossed in not only the story of the book, but the stunning photos on every page, full of life, emotion, capturing real people and small often unnoticed moments. The book was Carla’s Italian Joy, and I fell completely in love with it. This was before the Eat, Love, Pray era, and the book told a similar story, of a woman looking for something more, for passion and life and her awakening in discovering it. She uncovered meaning in her life and a new art of capturing it. The book is a visual invitation through her lens of discovery. I guess it’s obvious how taken I was with the book, and I was delighted to chat with Carla a bit, because that book of hers was the epitome of what I’d envisioned doing myself one day, with words. A few years later, I follow her blog: http://carlalovesphotography.blogspot.com/ and her work, and she has just published a new book called Paris Tango. I’ve included a few images from that book that Carla posted on her blog. Yes there is more than one Carla in France these days! And my book...on va dire, is in the making...

Photo by Carla Coulson

on writing..from Breakfast at Tiffany’s


That's right.

This is kind of a ratty question, but what have you written lately?

Lately, I've been working on a novel.

Lately, since 1956?

A novel takes a long time. I want it exactly right.

Do you write every day?




It's a beautiful typewriter.

Of course. It writes nothing but sensitive, intensely felt, promising prose.

There's no ribbon in it.

There isn't?



from Breakfast at Tiffany’s... this part always makes me smile. Guess I better go write...
bonne nuit/good morning x

12 November 2008

So an american & an algerian walk into an asian bagel shop..

Today the Algerian and I went to a bagel shop, (one thing I can hold over all my friends in Paris..easy access to bagels, though I’m not even in the habit of eating them anymore..) and straight after four hours of reading ESL (English as a second language)-approved books and practicing vocab with me, he asked the young Asian girl behind the counter, “what’s in that egg sandwich?”

“Egg, cheese, and chai” she responded.

Rather surprised, he asked, “chai? like, tea?”

She smiled all-knowingly shaking her head, “noooooo, chai..chai..it’s like onion” then she giggled about his mistake and smiled at me, as if we shared a secret.

“Oh,” I paused, chive.”

“Ya” she giggled again and said it slowly, still trying to teach him this new word, “ch-ai, it’s onion. Some people say scallion.”

He looked at me still confused and said, “j’ai compris chai.”

“Ya, moi aussi,” I smiled, non-verbally reassuring him that I’d heard what he’d heard.

“It’s chive, chi-vuh I couldn’t help but smile, saying it to him slowly and perhaps mocking her previously exaggerated repetition of “chai” for him.

Chi-vvvvve. It’s fine I said shaking my head to him “just get it, it’s good.”

Still very confident in her knowledge of onions, she began to prepare his egg, cheese and chai bagel.

“This is a ‘salami’ situation,” I told him, and we both laughed at the ever-present, often oblivious contention between foreign egos competing in accented English.

He worked in a café two years ago just after moving to the States. The owner of the café was a Korean woman -- I’m still not sure how they managed to communicate.

One day, she asked him to make her a cappuccino “and put it in a salami.”

I never even witnessed this, I’ve just relived it ever since, with countless reenactments done on my behalf.

And he tells it: “and I asked her, a salami? and she tells me, ‘a cappuccino in a salami, yes’ so I stare at her, I know what this is, salami, but I didn’t know how it goes with cappuccino, so she gets very mad that I don’t understand, and walks over and grabbed a mug holding it in my face like, I can’t believe you don’t know this, ‘a salami’ she showed it to me like I’m stupid, ‘sa-la-mi and I was like, oh, you mean, ceramic?”

And she still looks at me like I’m crazy, like finally you understand English, ‘yes that’s what I told you, a salami.’”

...Just a hunch, but I’m thinking my recent decision to tutor in English and writing (to all students, btw, not just the international crowd) was a clever one. I’m sensing some English courses and tutoring sessions are needed (though, perhaps not admittedly so!) somewhere out there in, as our governor Arnold so proudly refers to his state, Cal-eeifor-neei-a.

But anyway, stories like this just make me laugh, and reminisce, as I’ve been the brunt of them countless times through my linguistic struggles in France, dealing with inadequate r’s.... But, whether you prefer cappuccino or chai, these words and moments keeps life interesting...and keep us chuckling in every language.

09 November 2008

accidental moments become perfection

I love juxtaposition. Juxtaposition, contradiction, accidental moments become perfection. Traces of lives, shattered views, details, that, together, say more about the world than one view could ever convey. Thoughts, memories, photos from friends and words in any language, voices of the past and those from the very present, mingle with languages, cultures, music and glimpses of the world we subtly discover are woven throughout today. When certain things appear with others the resulting message, the context that is created by such arrangement, can be perfect, or shocking, or extraordinarily not what was expected but exactly what was desired. So many instances in life find us walking too fast, failing to stop and look at the things we never thought of mixing together, but when we look again, and realize the message that their union has created, something in the world seems more complete.

The beautiful scenic pictures on here called ‘Selma’s pictures’ are images I fell completely in love with when my Turkish friend Selma sent me pictures from her trip to Cappadocia. Selma and I like to trade stories from our current locations (Istanbul and California) and the mundane for me, is exciting for her, and likewise, her daily routine in Istanbul, has become one of the highest priorities on my dying-to-do list.

I guess I could make an excuse for not writing the past few days, but every time I came to this page to do so, I wasn’t sure how to follow these words spoken by Barack Obama the other night. “And to all those watching tonight from beyond our shores, from parliaments and palaces to those who are huddled around radios in the forgotten corners of our world — our stories are singular, but our destiny is shared.” This one phrase, more than anything, spoke to me, as I truly believe and have lived it, our destiny is shared. The people I have met from all corners of the world, whom I have the fortune of calling my friends, have touched something deep within me, sparked a curiosity, and changed how I see the world, and what I plan to do while I’m here. And the picture of Selma, standing free above the breathtaking views of the ancient land of Cappadocia, complimented Obama's eloquent words, from another corner in the world, and somehow made it all seem more possible.

The richness that can be discovered from all corners of the world, when the mundane mingles with the extraordinary...

Consequently, the photo here is of a bridge that I came across (but didn't cross) after taking a wrong turn with my Norwegian and Irish/Basque friends high up in the mountains of Rjukan Norway.

Come to think of it, I’ve yet to tell Selma about my blog!

((canim Selmacim baby cok optum, you know I love your photos!))

05 November 2008

At this defining moment

"And to all those watching tonight from beyond our shores, from parliaments and palaces to those who are huddled around radios in the forgotten corners of our world — our stories are singular, but our destiny is shared..."

President-Elect Barack Obama
4 Nov 2008

04 November 2008

Walking past the American Dream

Four long years ago it was election night 2004 in Paris. I had fedexed my absentee ballot and was walking around Opéra with my Norwegian friend and my Egyptian friend. As we passed the American Dream Bar, a line out the door and audibly packed with people and big screen election play-by-play, I declined my Egyptian friend’s repeated requests to enter the madness. The closest I’d ever come to setting foot in that nightmare of a place, was the tacky radio ads where a female voice spoke French in a hideously exaggerated American accent, boasting nightly shows and drink specials.

Fascinated with the notion of a (at least somewhat) functioning democracy, perhaps she had lured me to Opéra under false pretenses, intent on bringing me to the American Dream – Bar, I might add. For complete immersion in my culture, I mean she was always up for new experiences.. she couldn’t vote, but she sure could watch, in a bar where she couldn’t drink, but again could watch and enjoy a coca light in the boisterous American Dream. But I said pass, and we kept walking down the side street rue Daunou, that particular commotion avoided, yet not quite sure if this evening would end in hope or disgrace.

The election was on in full force, even the basic channels had it, which was all I had. Broadcasting live from the States, the election craze couldn’t really be escaped, and even if I turned the télé off (which of course I didn’t) I had my friends (the non Americans) texting me all night, did u vote? what will happen? (as if I had some inside scoop), alors, impatiente? as the night got later and later, and the situation darker and darker.

And thus in the late hours of election night in Paris, things were just getting underway at home, and I fell asleep to voices on the TV, boasting in French, of the American dream, and hours later awoke, to the American nightmare, and the text messages started again, but this time they wanted answers.

Though politically it’s been a long four years, I can still feel that night, the incessant ringing of my phone, the anxious air about the streets, the desire for something more, something better, and the presence of those friends who, today, sit further from me, but just as close, still in Paris, back in Cairo, Oslo... but always with me quand meme. It’s nice to have certain dates that serve as markers for comparison, that trigger memories and moments, snapshots of evenings, that bring you back, show you where you are today, and push you to be what you thought you’d already be by now.

((no I never took a picture of it, but found a photo on travelstripes.com))

on joking...from Hemingway

“They say the seeds of what we will do are in all of us, but it always seemed to me that in those who make jokes in life, the seeds are covered with better soil.”

Hemingway a moveable feast

here's my card (obsession)

In order to support my writing habit, I’m urgently attempting to take on a smörgåsbord of small jobs (i.e. holiday gift wrapper/decorator, writing tutor for children, writing and editing assistance for dissertations, theses, collage essays etc...) In the hopes of actually getting some business, I started googleing around for ideas and websites to make some quick business cards that could possibly summarize this smattering of potential employment offerings. Not only did I find some very cool business cards (that I'll get in a heartbeat once my extra jobs make me some extra money) ..I also found sites where you can design your own business cards. And thus, an instant new obsession and the resulting reality of how the rest of my day was spent.

In addition, I discovered I was using one of those sites where you can actually sell the products you have designed. And I immediately added this to my recent lineup of extra jobs. I guess in the end this sounds like an ad, however it’s merely a fascination with the endless merchandising (and business card) options of today. Here is a link for one of the cards I very much enjoyed designing, but I plan on adding many more to this collection! http://www.zazzle.com/inotherwords_c*

Also check out this link for other innovative business card ideas (that I’m sure I can’t afford..yet) http://creativebits.org/cool_business_card_designs. The picture here is of a business card by a divorce lawyer ..very clever ..I won’t be needing one like it, but quand meme it’s quite clever.

01 November 2008

It was a dark and stormy night

It was a dark and stormy night in California (no, but seriously, it was) also known as Halloween. My favorite coffee boy (that’s what I call him, for obvious reasons, we met when he used to work in a café and I got coffee from him every day until he asked me out to coffee..) anyway, he’s from Algeria, so I don’t think he knew exactly what I meant when I told him that on Halloween this year we were going to carve pumpkins. Then he saw my ‘example’ glowing on the porch when he arrived chez moi last night, looked at me, and said, no, I don’t think I’m gonna do that. And in the end, he did cut his own pumpkin, shaking his head, something about how this was for kids, and when he put his child-safe carving knife down, it was a good pumpkin, complete with a tongue sticking out (nope..this was definitely not child’s play) we put a candle in, his face glowed, with pride an impromptu photo shoot ensued. You would never have know it was his first time ;) until those kids kept ringing the doorbell and asking for tricks and treats...