Holiday Travel

We’re expecting a snow storm tomorrow.  The day before Thanksgiving.  Quite literally the busiest travel day of the year.  To all those on the move, good luck, be safe and consider this airline for next year’s travels:


The tagline on their camo plane reads “No One Saw Us Coming”


Kulula certainly has a sense of humor.  Air travel sucks, as I’ve noted here before, but it sucks a little less when you’re on a plane that points out that the loo is also a mile-high-club induction chamber.

A few recent announcements on Kulula flights:

“In the event of a sudden loss of cabin pressure, masks will descend from the ceiling. Stop screaming, grab the mask, and pull it over your face. If you have a small child travelling with you, secure your mask before assisting with theirs. If you are travelling with more than one small child, pick your favourite.”

“Now on our way to Slaapstad we should be flying over a few swimming pools, 4 rivers and a large sewerage pond, so in the case of a water-landing you have your own life-jacket under the seat. There’s a red whistle for survivors and a light to shine in the shark’s eyes.”

“We are a smoke-free flight and the toilets are monitored by smoke detectors & video-camera’d for the captain’s entertainment. But if we do catch you smoking the Civil Aviation Authority can fine you up to R6000; and Kulula fans, for those prices you could have flown South African Airways today and got yourself a free blankie.”

“Ladies and gentlemen, we have landed in Cape Town. Please take all your possessions. Anything left behind will be shared equally between staff. Please note we do not accept unwanted mothers-in-laws or children.”

And finally, the “Kulula census” radio ad letting everyone know they are the “Most South African Airways”: “I’m on Kulula flight MN101 from Jozi to Cape Town and we’re without a doubt the most South African Airways. I’ve just counted, on board we’ve got 189 passengers, 90 who fly for business, 99 for pleasure, 36 are Zulus, 21 are Xhosas, 9 Sothos, 68 whites, 38 of them english, 30 afrikaans, 12 are hipsters, 19 coloureds, 21 Indians, 2 Rastas, 11 Jews all white, 2 goths wearing black, 34 divorcees of mixed races, 9 homosexuals also mixed, 1 transexual black and one man wearing panties and a bra, white, the man not the panties and the bra – those are black.”

Your move, Southwest.



Part of That World

I’ve been on a Disney kick lately.  This happens every few years, where I belt out Part of Your World in the shower; when I swipe on a thick line of black liquid eyeliner to look more like Princess Aurora; when I consider dying my hair a deep brown because Belle is just so belle and maybe I could finally pull off the color yellow.  John knows what’s up when he comes home from work and he hears this blaring, at full volume:

I love Disney.  I can’t help it.  I’m a child of the 80’s, and there will never be a moment in a pool when I don’t consider, for an instant, that I have a mermaid tail.

Things really got interesting when I was offered the job of Cinderella.  Literally.  I used to work with a girl who was a Disney scout (and former Ariel herself), and for one solid year she begged me to be Cinderella at Walt Disney World.  She told me I had the perfect “princess” face.  I can’t say I wasn’t tempted to take the job – they wanted to start me off in Tokyo, which would have been fun – but then I remembered that I wasn’t actually going to be Cinderella and would have to interact with children all day.  It was a swift “thanks but no thanks”.  Still, I was flattered.

Considering changing my Linkedin profile pic to this anyway.

I watched Sleeping Beauty the other night, for the first time in years.  Aside from the astoundingly dumb plot line and the overbearing idiocy of the Aurora character, I’ve always liked this movie for its style. We all know that 14th century Europe was disgusting so Disney had to re-imagine something much more pleasing for their film. Digging a little deeper into the story of how this movie came about, I discovered this beautiful original concept art, done by Eyvind Earle, who Disney hired to style the film.









Talk about a dream job – why aren’t I doing this?!?  Painting beautiful pictures for Disney all day…sheesh, I really took a wrong turn somewhere at the corner of banking logos and business cards. Turns out, this is a real thing – every movie starts with the concept art, to set the tone of the animation. Why didn’t they tell me this in design school?

Eyvind Earle also designed the look for Lady and the Tramp:





Here is some art by Disney powerhouse Mary Blair:

Alice in WonderlandAIW_Mary_Blair_1

AIW_Mary_Blair_2 Saludos_Amigos_Mary_Blair AIW_Mary_Blair_4


My Story Cinderella





Peter Pan




And the wonderful Tyrus Wong, who did the concept art for the serious tearjerker Bambi




If you need me, I’ll be brushing up on my illustration skills.  And don’t tell Disney this…but I’d love to see a movie animated in these styles. How beautiful would that be?

Shakespeare and Co.


Have you heard about Shakespeare and Company in Paris?  It’s an English bookstore, meant to serve the large expat population of English-speaking writers, poets and philosophers living in the city.  A lot of people recognize it because Owen Wilson’s character walks out of the store in a scene in Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris, but it’s fame goes a lot further back than 12 seconds of screen time in a recent movie.

SequelFrom Sequel*

The original Shakespeare and Company was started by Sylvia Beach and was a haven for writers like Earnest Hemmingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein, and many others.  The store was located on another street in the city, and it closed permanently when the German occupation of France began in 1940.  In 1951, a Mr. George Whitman then opened what we know today as Shakespeare and Company.  After number of years as Le Mistral, in 1964 Whitman gave his bookstore the same name as Sylvia’s store, with her blessing.  He even named his daughter after her.


Photo from Reading Addicts UK*

It’s hard to believe that this bookstore today hasn’t been here since Medieval times.  The narrow wooden staircases and tiny compact rooms filled to the ceiling with books feels like a step back in time, which isn’t very off-base as the building itself is a 16th-century former monastery.  I’m also positive it is in Diagon Alley.  Must have stepped through a portal upon entering, obviously.


Photos from Reading Addicts UK*

Today, Shakespeare and Company continues it’s tradition as a haven for writers, poets and other literary types.  The shop has 14 or so beds where broke writers can sleep; the only payment requested is to put in some hours behind the cash register.

Molly DektarMolly Dektar*

Vanity Fair just published an amazing piece on Sylvia Whitman, who now runs the shop she inherited from her father, George.  You can read it here.

Sylvia_Whitman_Vanity_FairFrom Vanity Fair – Sylvia and her father; Sylvia today.  With movie star looks and a childhood growing up in THIS bookstore…I hate her.


If you’re in Paris, Shakespeare and Company is definitely worth a stop.  Head upstairs, grab a book from the library and enjoy and afternoon of reading while getting the very best view of Notre Dame.

*No photos allowed inside the store, so I found these on the internet.  They are indeed photos of the inside, I promise you.  Thanks, internets.

Buly 1803

I didn’t do much planning for my trip to Paris.  After all, I’d been there once before with John.  We did all the obligatory things – the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, the croissants.  Not to mention I was trying to orchestrate moving out of Taos just days before I was supposed to be stepping on a plane.  I figured I’d done it all once, I could do it all again without much need to do any research.  Luckily, my mother felt differently.  She came armed with magazine clippings and recommendations from friends on what to see and where to shop.  One of those places just happened to be on the next street over from our apartment: Buly 1803.


After passing it nearly every night on our walks, looking into the windows and feeling like we were looking into history, we could never seem to catch it while it was open.  On our last day in the city, while walking over to the Musee d’Orsay, we once again walked by Buly and lo and behold, it was open.

Buly_1803_ParisCourtesy of Buly 1803

“Maybe we can come back after the museum…” my mom said.  I grabbed her arm and told her fat chance, we’re going in and we’re going in now.  If from the outside I felt like I was looking in on history, on the inside it felt as though we had walked right into it.  The shop was designed after an 19th century apothecary, and I imagine it smelled like one, too.  With candles burning and the delicately scented beautiful soaps and perfumes throughout, it was the opposite of a sensory assault (looking at you, Sephora) and more like a finding yourself on the pages of an 19th century novel.  The team that resurrected Cire Trudon, France’s oldest candle-maker, is responsible for Buly 1803 and what an incredible job they’ve done.  It took a moment for me to realize I was back in 21st century Paris after we’d left the shop, little bags of body lotions, oil soaps and scented matches – yes, scented matches -swinging from our hands.  Although I was happy to be in 21st century Paris because, well, indoor plumbing.

Jean_Vincent_Bully_Buly_1803_ParisThe original Perfumer, or Vinaigre, Jean Vincent Bully.  His scented vinegar was the Chanel No. 5 of 19th Century Europe. 



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buly-1803-2014-01Courtesy of Buly 1803

photo 3(1)  -3Courtesy of Buly 1803

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They have 4 main scents that are carried in their soaps, lotions, perfumes and other items – Scottish Moss, English Honey, Mexican Tuberose and Makassar, an oriental fragrance I had sprayed on myself and regret not buying with a fierceness usually reserved for cheesecake.  Needless to say, I am both counting down the days and equally dreading the moment online shopping becomes available.  For now, though, experiencing the shop is the best.  From all the little nooks and crannies of the shop’s amazing display to learning more about each product from the staff, it was really a special experience.  My lotions were boxed up and labeled with my name, the date of my purchase and the details of the product.  Were it not for a bit of an explosion in my luggage I would have been able to show you pictures of all that, but suffice to say I’m just happy these beautiful glass bottles survived the trip.

photo 1(1)

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These bottles are enough to make any bathroom look and feel luxurious, nevermind the good-smelling-stuff within.  For now, I suppose I’ll just have to head back to the City of Lights to stock up on my new obsession.  You can read a little more about Buly 1803, if you’re interested, here and here.



In the past 30 days, I’ve driven clear across the panhandle of Oklahoma.

photo 1

I’ve gotten lost in downtown Kansas City, looking for a Chipotle, when I should have just been eating BBQ. I regret to inform you that I did not see the world’s largest wind chime, even though everyone in Casey, Illinois, was so thrilled about it.

photo 2

I drove alongside Lake Erie, the first Great Lake I’ve ever seen in my life. I switched it up and traveled by boat to get to a wedding on a different lake, a smaller lake, in Maine.


The next thing I knew, I was having a French pastry.


In Paris.


Now, finally, I am home. 30 days, 9,385 miles traveled, 5 different beds slept in, $8,237,987,234 in parking fines paid to the city of Boston, 46 stairs climbed and one car accident later, we’re home.

Everyone keeps asking me how it feels to be home. Weird, is how it feels. I haven’t processed it all yet. I haven’t let myself dwell on the feeling I had driving out of Taos the night we left, with the mountains growing smaller as we turned east. I don’t even know how I would explain it, because it wasn’t sadness or anticipation or excitement. It was something else, a closing to a chapter, a door quietly shutting. People ask me what I miss, if anything. Skiing, I say. Or really good enchiladas. But what I will miss, and what I can’t quite put into words, is the feeling of being “away”.

While it was as wonderful as it could be for the short time we were there, we’ll never move back, and I wouldn’t want to even if we could. Some places are better kept as memories.  Time to turn the page and get on with the next chapter.