Cafe, Experience

Ease & Patina

We’re finally feeling the ease of the city. We’ve become regulars at the corner cafés and crêperies and enjoy the glimmer of recognition and conversation.

Rue des Saules in Montmartre

Rue des Saules in Montmartre

I half expect to see that they are all actors and props on a stage. So often, you enjoy a city like Paris in the contracted and fleeting moments of several days. After a month, will you see the strings and frames, the costume and makeup?

But we’ve come to enjoy and discover the genuine. First impressions of surprise and delight warm into familiarity, recognition and knowing. Patina replaces shininess.

Cafe, Diary, Experience

Enterprising Urchins (or: phone stolen)

A few hours ago, two tables to the right of where I’m sitting now, my iPhone was stolen by two kids. A perfectly executed bait-&-switch, where one of the (7 or 8 year old!) boys chatted me up about some religious thing and the other boy deftly laid a laminated pamphlet over my phone (which I’d set on the table next to my half-sipped café crème). Once they’d finished their spiel, they gathered their papers and walked off… with my phone neatly tucked into whatever cause they were pretending to proselytize about. It wasn’t til twenty minutes after they’d left that I realized what had just occurred. By then, the two little thieves were long gone, traipsing along Rue Bretagne toward Republique. I looked for them for a minute, took a xanax, and walked home to my macbook (reported it stolen; tried “Find Your Phone”; locked, erased and suspended it via AT&T and iCloud).

The City of Revolution & Protest: 1792, the Jacobin Insurrection. 1871, La Commune de Paris. 1968, the May Protests & Strikes of students and workers. Today...∞

The City of Revolution & Protest: 1792, the Jacobin Insurrection. 1871, La Commune de Paris. 1968, the May Protests & Strikes of students and workers. Today…∞

Moving on… I bought my daily copy of Libération – headline: “Moi, Ahmed Sohail, expulsé par la gauche.” (Still don’t know what it means – something about a guy being kicked out of the left-wing party?) Then, perused the Seine-side bookseller booths with m’mum, Janneane and my sisters. Found copies of Rancière’s anti-Leninist leaflet, a few newspapers printed during the Paris Commune in 1871 (the paper was called Decentralisation, I think), and a French translation of Hemingway’s ode to Paris, A Moveable Feast.

Still, I can’t stop reaching for my phone. No Instagram, Google maps, weather updates, Twitter/Facebook, email – I don’t even know what time it is. Crafty little buggers, those darling street-trolls. If only I had a skill-set as well-developed as their craft…

Cafe, Work / Life

Space and Place

I’m ready to go home. I’ve seen it, done it, ate it, tried it. Well, not quite everything. But I’ve hit a threshold – be that sickness for home, or the onset of the ordinary.

Le thé mélange du loir at Le Loir dans la Théière.

Le thé mélange du loir at Le Loir dans la Théière.

Perhaps its the combination of a cold, a poor night’s sleep, the persistent chilly weather, the advent of the third leg of our journey with a new set of guests and new set of rules, but all I can think is of home and the known. My body drags through the street, as Ben deciphers the pharmacie to find a decongestant, then whisks me away to my favorite spot, Le Loir dans la Théière, for tea, chocolat chaud, and a pastry (or two). My spirits are lifting, but when we arrive home to dive into our work day, the internet is down and then the nearby café’s wifi is inaccessible. My worst dreads officially came true. The magic of Paris has dissipated – I just want to be home.

I share this for posterity–as grand as our trip has been and will be, there are inescapable dull and dreary moments. And there will be things we’ll want to change and improve for the next time. I think though, we’re just in the lull. Our trip to Paris is long enough that it’s not a vacation, but short enough that we can’t establish permanence. There’s a tug-o-war to keep up with the urgency to see and try things because the opportunity is limited, to turn our attention to work, and to pause to rest.

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Cafe, Experience, Fashion, Play

Parisian Vetiver

We explored the concept stores of Paris. Part boutique and cafe, they offer products for home, beauty, fashion, music and more.  Shopping becomes an experience that blurs past departments to displays that are matched by mood rather than object. Colette, Merci, 0fr, and Broken Arm are just a few that we’ve enjoyed.

Cafe creme in Merci's library.

Cafe creme in Merci’s library.

We had lunch in Merci’s used book cafe, surrounded by library shelves and little tables & nooks to sit and munch. We enjoyed œuf à la coque and chocolat tartines, along with frothy cafe cremes. Clumsily breaking through the shell of the egg, we reached the sunny center, dredging the fingers of bread in butter and yolk. With full bellies, we went on to explore the three levels of the store, I with a mission to buy something that captured the Parisian spirit. Once I spied the rack of Isabel Marant Étoilé, my heart was  set on a piece from the quintessential designer of effortless chic and cool femme style. I came away with an embroidered silk sheath , spun of kohl and gold, with a low slung tie that hung on my hips hearkening the 20s. It matched the mood of my new scent, Byredo’s Bal d’Afrique, “a warm and romantic vetiver” inspired by Paris in the late 20s and its infatuation with the avant-garde and vibrant expression of the African culture. I imagine my own euphoria in Paris – spun in a cloud of cloves and mojitos, drinking in the city and its exuberance of light and culture.

Cafe, Fashion, Pictures, Play, Work / Life

Week 2 Pictorial Peek

Cafe, Work / Life

Temporary Hoosier Expats


Our month of living as temporary Hoosier expats in Paris isn’t just an exercise in working, studying and playing in-between Indy and Paris. Instead, we want to occupy the spaces where Indy and Paris overlap (and, I think, actually are beginning to). We’re experiencing and learning from the similarities, collisions and exchanges that co-occur here*.

*here being both, at once, continuously; not one or the other, not separated from either; not merely straddling two cultures, but living amidst the two with both feet planted in each city.