Archive for October 2013

Düsseldorf



Hello all and HAPPY HALLOWEEN! Halloween just so happens to be one of my very favorite holidays (tied with Thanksgiving and, perhaps, Christmas) but this year as I find myself ONCE AGAIN NOT IN AMURRICA and my German flatmate (read: only German friend) is unenthused at the idea of fake blood on a Thursday night, my glorious holiday has somehow been traded up for regular old beer on Friday.

I'd rather not talk about it.

The more exciting news is that, as I may or may not have mentioned, I spent this past weekend in Düsseldorf with the (nerdy, German) boys, which means that instead of seeing the beautiful sights the city had to offer I spent 80% of each day barhopping, beer-drinking, and Fußball-watching in true German bro fashion.

The highlight of the trip for me, though - other than obviously all the delicious Eis I subjected my bros to as a condition for going along with TWO ENTIRE DAYS drinking beer - was a visit Saturday afternoon to the beautiful Schloss Benrath. It was a bit out of the way but I promise you that you've never seen fall and you've never seen breathtaking until you've walked these gardens. There's a few sneak-peeks scattered throughout here, but I'll post the rest Saturday, dealio? Only because I EXPECT YOU TO BE TOO HUNGOVER TOMORROW MORNING TO CHECK BLOGS. Although please tell me about your fantastic plans for the night so I can live vicariously through your glamorous American lifestyle. Happy Halloween!

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& autumn is come to germany

Sooo today is the one-year anniversary of this blog and I'm celebrating with a post about leaves... and since that's lame anyways, I guess I can go ahead and talk about how this blog has evolved like the changing seasons. Or something. I'm going to read this later and hate myself.

Really, though, this blog has become a personal outlet to force me to cultivate my creative side, and approach everything in my life mindfully and with an eye for quality. As I've stopped caring about what people might like to see here and more about what I want to make, too, Bloggie and I have become better friends. You might even say we're besties. D'aww.

For those of you who have been here since the early days and are still sticking around even though I barely ever make any personal appearances anymore (part of this is due to lack of photographer - I miss you KK!), thank you - I appreciate your silent and/or vocal support. For newbies, welcome, enjoy my pictures of random sh*t. For everyone, as usual, brutally honest commentary is always not only accepted but welcome. Actually I'm asking.

Anyways, leaves.

I guess I never really got over the childlike delight of stepping on those crunchy leaves... or of jumping in a whole pile of them. Which results in most of my outfits these days containing at least some shade of yellow or orange in the form of leaves in my hair and on my clothes.

Germany is otherwise going well, we might even have internet in our apartment soon. Then boy oh boy you might never want to see another yellow leaf again.

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Sight/Seeing

I'm not sure how to begin, so I keep looking back through the photos Isa's chosen for this post. It occurs to me that they don't look much like the Paris I live in -- the one with filthy sidewalks and beggars at every turn, where all the residents are stressed out and ticked off, and the tourists are largely lost and hungry.

Of course, some of the disconnect has to do with Isa's lovely camera and talent using it, but it's also a function of where we went. Our wanderings involved stops in the Galerie Véro-Dodat to leche les vitrines (window shop, literally "lick the windows") at Christian Louboutin, coffee at the same palatial café where Angelina Jolie burns the letter in The Tourist, and a pause in the Carousel du Louvre -- beautiful, old places.

Paris is an old city, and it industrialized with the rest of Western Europe in the 19th century, but as centralized as French power was in the hands of monarchs, revolutionaries, and the occasional emperor, capitalism's factories and warehouses were never allowed to intrude on the majesty of the capital.

There's nothing like having a great friend visit to remind what you like best about your city. As an expat who shamelessly moved to Paris for the romance of its visual beauty and dysfunction, it reminded me to ask myself: what's the point of staying somewhere if you no longer see it? It was a necessary wake up call.

On Monday I was still basking in my reignited appreciation of Paris' endless eye candy (the chic set, architecture, long autumn sunsets) when the question was further complicated for me.

I volunteer with an organization called les Auxiliaires des Aveugles that serves visually impaired people. (Donate here.) The people I escort to doctor appointments and to do their grocery shopping are so sensitive to the stimuli of their stronger senses, I wonder at their wherewithal. How can they cope with the odors? The inevitable bumps of a crowded sidewalk that, to them, come out of nowhere?

They get around easier with an arm to hold, and while we've walked arm in arm, every person I've escorted has taken note of the sun on their skin, the breeze, or the smell of the soap aisle. It is, I'd like to think, a microcosm of friendship: In lending you my arm, I give you the support you need to feel secure. The feeling of security allows you to relax and appreciate the niceties of life, and when you, in turn, share them with me, we are both enriched from our contact.

Let's all see clearly the joy in others, so that others will see it in us. xx

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Château de Versailles

Come the latter half of my week in Paris it was time for me to mosey on down to Sèvres, a lovely little suburb of Paris very conveniently located for visiting the beautiful Château de Versailles, to crash with a family friend and spend the aforementioned quality time with Da, my 11-year-old cousin whose photography skills and shoe size already surpass mine.

I guess it should suffice to say that the palace was as beautiful as the day was cold, but that said I am never really sure as I wander through these sorts of things if I would ever actually want to live and sleep under 25-foot carpeted ceilings with windows fringed by curtains that are about as difficult to move as a school bus. I think I could handle the majestic staircases - stair porn addiction aside, imagine never having to go into that cold for a workout! - but then the tradeoff is that if one of those chandeliers happens to fall on your head, you're pretty much mincemeat, literally.

Meh, I'm just speaking gibberish now. If you're fed up with the City of Lights already, never fear! I'll take my camera out one of these days so you can see just how much German fall looks... exactly like northeastern U.S. fall. But also cathedrals. And stuff. But seriously, please bear with me for now - we don't even have a fridge at our apartment yet, much less internet.

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Les Glucides


Hi y'all. The early adopters among you might remember me from some of La Saloperie's earliest posts last autumn. (Where does the time go??) For the newcomers, I'm Jen. Isa and I were roommates in college and these days we maintain a startling level of intimacy via WhatsApp.  I live in Paris with an Irishman and a hypothetical dog named Bart (pictures when he materializes). Mostly I am a broke frustrated writer who's considering law school.

As much as I love Isa, the Irishman, and my imaginary dog, the one thing that I really, honestly, truly-madly-deeply couldn't live without is sugar. It's a problem. The endocrinologists are saying it gives you cancer, and I've been kinda not really dieting since I was 13, but bury me with my Bueno bars, I love the stuff. So of course Isa and I a profité de all this town's glorious glucides.

One of our first stops was a little boulangerie not far from my house called Du Pain et des Idées that turns out fancy-as-f*ck pain au raisin from a gorgeous Bel Epoque storefront. Whereas most bakers use brioche dough for their raisin spirals, this place uses croissant pastry, giving their viennoiseries a flaky, delicate feel. Plus they don't stop at raisins. Options include praliné, rum raisin, and my favorite, chocolate pistachio.

We cleaned the place out, grabbed coffee at the grocery store across the street and settled down on the bank of the stagnant, green Canal at the end of the street to dig in.

The next day we boogied on down to tourist central, past the Louvre (see: palatial columns, above) and the Palais Royal across the street. (I like to imagine some French Renaissance proto-Xzibit going, "Yo (majesty) dawg! I heard you like palaces so we built a palace next to your palace, so you can see a palace from your palace!")

Anyway, it was rainy so we wandered around the galleries of the Palais Royal looking at jewelry, designer, and designer consignment stores. Isa also stood on a column in one of the courtyards. It's modern art, y'all.

When it was a little clearer we made our way to Angelina, a world-famous tea room that serves really delectable hot chocolate. Disclaimer: the place is totally overpriced and you have to wait in line, but that's how you know you're in Paris.

On the way home we picked up a selection of pastries from a corner bakery where the lady baker jovially explained her selection and patiently waited for us to make our choices. We wound up taking four decadent creations and by the time the Irishman got home that night there was still a third of a pastry left for him. I thought that was very noble of us ;)

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La Tour Eiffel

You say to-mah-to, I say to-mey-to, you say Eiffel Tower, I say la Tour Eiffel because I'm fancy like that now.

The real reason I was in Paris, though, was to see my aunt and my cousin Da - my family is very close-knit, but since all my cousins live in Singapore I don't get the chance to see them very often. (This is particularly emphasized by the near-foot she's grown since I last saw her.) But since we are adorable, we coordinated this vacay so Da and I could spend quality time on the banks of the Seine - awww.

She also tagged me in a million unflattering photos on instagram, but she's 11 and adorable so I guess she can get away with it.

If she's reading this, though, NOT FOR MUCH LONGER.

Sigh. They grow so fast.

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finally, Paris

I was only in Paris for a week but in that time I took at least two week's worth of posts in photos, consumed a month's worth of chocolate croissants (that gets italicized because I'm pronouncing it "kwa-ssont!", obviously), and inhaled a year's worth of cigarette smoke.

I've also extracted the promise of my very best and much-more-eloquent-than-I roomie from college, Jennifer, of a guest post on Paris sometime in the next week or two - so get excited! (She lives there but more importantly, she is hilarious.)

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