Shakespeare and Co.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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“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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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.

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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.

 

Home.

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

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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.

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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.

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

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In Paris.

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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.

Homeward Bound

Yesterday we tried to have a picnic.  I wasn’t feeling well, so when John sent me inside the grocery store to get the lunch supplies, I came out with a bag of Goldfish and 2 fashion magazines.  That is, once I got past the blockade mulling about the store entrance.  What is it about automatic doors that makes people decide “Yes. YES. This is exactly where I want to stand to have a conversation. This is it.”  We drove up into the mountains, where John had been biking a few days before and discovered a field he thought would be perfect.  Could he remember how to get there?  No, but he wasn’t going to let that stop him.  We drove for 45 minutes on a kidney-pummeling rocky dirt road, through 6 different herds of cattle, and got to what I thought was our destination when I was informed that we had to hike the rest of the way.  Angry silence followed.

We laid out our blanket, which John immediately spilled his entire beer all over, and starting shoveling Goldfish in our mouths just as the skies opened up and it began to pour.

“I fucking hate this place,” is what I believe I mumbled at that point, with a wad of goldfish still in my mouth.

It’s a good thing we’re moving back to Boston next month.

Back in February, John started looking into jobs with the FDA.  It was an absolute long shot that 1) he would be able to transfer out of Taos this year, as his contract isn’t up until next and 2) that a position in Boston would be available.  Granted, it did take 6 months for everything to work out, but work out it did.  He got the position, in Boston, and was able to leave Taos early.  On top of that, our renter in our condo in Boston has decided to move out, just in time for us to move back in next month.

I don’t really hate it here – well, I don’t hate everything here, I’ll say that much.  I think what I was feeling on our failed picnic is a bit of senioritis.  The end is in sight, and now it just feels like the long slog to reach it.  In truth, I had hoped that we would be able to move around a bit more before we could get back to Boston.  It would have been fun to live in California, or the beautiful Pacific Northwest, or Washington DC.  But Boston is home, and when the option to go home is on the table and you don’t know if you’ll get another chance, you take it. For obvious reasons, I’m thrilled about this. It means I don’t have to make a 12 hour trip to see my family. It means we can actually put down roots, that all these ideas I have for our future house, virtually my entire Pinterest profile, can actually happen. It means we can finally, finally, get a dog. Some women ache to have children; the only ache I’ve felt is to have a pup of my very own. I coo over a Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier the way I think people expect me to coo over their baby, but what can I say: Children make me nervous. It means we can order Thai food and it will actually be Thai food. I am excited. I’m relieved. But I’m also a little nervous.

P1010176Moving home means I can squeeze this little lady anytime I want. Hi Gigi!

I re-read my first entry here.  I remember writing that, how excited I was to get out of Boston, to leave my job and to just go see about something else.  I figured we’d keep on doing just that, for a number of years.  I was excited about it, because it would allow me to keep trying new things and putting off working corporately, possibly forever.  But moving back to Boston derails that plan, and I’m finding myself becoming anxious about what to do next.  I’m still interested in going back to school, there are still ideas I have floating around for businesses I’d like to try and by all means I can do all that in Boston – but there’s a big part of me that feels like once we move back, I’ll get a job and find myself stuck in rush hour traffic again.  I’d really, really like to avoid that.  I’m not opposed to working; I’ve been working since I was 14, when my dad drove me to the town hall to get my working permit and I began scooping ice cream for obnoxious children.  I like working – I just happen to really like working for myself.  Now that I’ve had the experience if doing just that, I’m having a hard time thinking about work in any other way.  I’ve been either cursed or spoiled, more likely a combination of both.

So here I sit, in my little office surrounded by towers of boxes and totes, happy to be going home and anxious to not have a plan.  Somehow that feeling is so much more exciting when you’re leaving home than when you’re returning to it.  We’ve got exactly one month to go before we have to hit the road.  One month left for failed picnics, one month left of glorious sunshine.  One month left of our adventure.  Despite not exactly knowing what to do next, one more month is about all I want to handle anyway.  We’re ready to go home.

IMG_0047The view from our deck beats the view in Taos any day.

 

 

 

Stacking Rings

While completely ignoring my mile-long to-do list (which deserves its own post) and surfing People.com, I came across actress Cheryl Hines engagement & wedding ring for her marriage to Robert F. Kennedy Jr.  I’ve seen them all over the news recently, and before their wedding I’d never even heard of them.  Well the Kennedys I’ve heard of, obviously.  But I was clueless about this Cheryl Hines character.  When I saw her wedding set, however, I immediately liked her.  In fact, we could be besties.

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According to the article, Hines took the reins on this one, designing her own rings that fit her style while hubs shelled out the credit card.  My kind of girl.  That’s exactly what I did and I’m not ashamed to admit it.  Though her rings are not exactly my style, the idea behind them is right up my alley.  Similarly, she chose to wear two band styles instead of a large-stone engagement ring.  I did the same thing, although I added a third band to my mix because, well, symmetry and also why the hell not.  When we I was shopping for my wedding rings, I decided early on that engagement rings were not my thing.  I was obsessed with the look of stacked rings – I just find them to be so elegant.

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Jennifer Garner has one of the best stacks around.

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Granted Jen also has a massive cushion cut diamond we sometimes see her wearing, either with the stack, with part of the stack or alone on her right hand.  Let me not kid myself, I would take a cushion cut solitaire of that size if it were given to me.

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I mean, it doesn’t suck.

But that’s the beauty of stacking rings: you can choose how you wear them. I move mine around all the time. More awesome stacks:

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And the mack daddy of all stacks belongs to Emmanuelle Alt.  If the editor-in-chief of French Vogue is stacking, then I feel as though I’m in decent company.

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While I was in NYC on business one day, I popped into Barney’s and started trying on rings.  It was difficult to get the staff’s attention, number one because it’s Barney’s and number two because Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds also happened to be looking at jewelry right next to me, but I had tunnel vision because I had found them.  My rings, stacked up in the case, glittering and sparkling and begging me to wear them.  The designer was Malcolm Betts, based out of London, and I was hooked.  They had the organic, handmade quality I loved in jewelry while maintaining a simple elegance that I knew would suit me perfectly for years to come.

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More of Malcolms work:

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One thing I was particular about was how my rings would look in bad lighting – all gems look beautiful when the right light hits them and all you see is their sparkle, but when the light is flat, I wanted something interesting to look at.  It was one of the reasons I loved Malcom’s metal work.  I also chose to mix my metals, doing two small bands in 22k gold and one larger one in platinum, because I think the contrast makes each metal look even more lustrous than they do on their own.

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My rings are not for everyone, and left to his own devices I’m not sure John would have thought to pick out these rings, but he loves them just as much as I do.  And I love them.   Anniversaries are sure going to be fun from now on as I add to my stack.

If anyone is interested in the Malcolm Betts rings, I highly recommend working with Lydia at his shop in London. The whole experience was wonderful!